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Its funny; I have tried to write the story of Jo's birth several times now, occasionally getting quite far into it. But it is always too long (oh, its still gonna be long) or too dramatic or just boooorrrriiingg to read. So, I think I'll write the important points that lead up that moment, 8:26am on Thursday, May 9th, 2013, the moment when my daughter began the process of entering my life, in a more condensed form. Then I will get on with the tale of blood and guts that was my labor
Reader's Digest Version of the two weeks leading up to Josephine's birth:
-36+1: Bleeding clots, irregular contractions, overnight hospital stay, detailed sonogram, no reason for the bleeding found, severe polyhydraminos discovered, released on bed-rest to follow up with my docs
-36+3am: Severe cramping, a trip to the local L&D floor, dehydration "suspected" released to follow up with my doctors
-36+3pm: Doctor's appointment, detailed sonogram, poly looks manageable at the current time, no need for a Maternal & Fetal Medicine consult
-36+4: Cramping continues, frequent urination begins, visit to Immediate Care diagnoses a severe UTI
-36+4 thru 37+6: Continuation of bed-rest, cramping/bleeding remain sporadic, appetite tanks (I lose 9lbs between the weigh in at 37 weeks and the morning I deliver), I truthfully need every bit of help I am getting from my husband and mom because I feel so uncomfortable, exhausted, and ill.
And the BIG DAY arrives!! At 37+6, my water breaks while I am on the toilet. At first it is a trickle that gives way to gushes every so often. As soon as it happens I text my mom (who was on her way to my house anyway because I was supposed to have a doctor's appointment that morning) and my husband. The texts leave my phone at 8:26am. I am amazingly calmer than I thought I would be. Given I have polyhydraminos, cord prolapse can be a major concern. I assumed I would freak out if my water broke. But I feel Baby Girl moving around in there and spend the next two hours getting our stuff together and kissing my two little guys good-bye (tears!). We make the 45-minute commute to the hospital seamlessly and are admitted immediately (they must have taken my word that my water broke, given I brought in three soaked towels!).
A check at 11:30 puts me at 5cm, but baby is still floating (aka: has not dropped into the pelvis yet). The midwife decides I can walk a bit to see if it will encourage her to move downward. However, that is quickly abandoned as apparently she is forming pockets of fluid over her head constantly and this increases the chances of cord prolapse. I am hooked to the monitors continuously, but am able to stand, sit, use the birthing ball, etc.
Around 1pm, the nurse notices that Jo is having "late decels" on the monitor. A check puts me at 5-6cm, but baby is no further down into the pelvis. It is decided (by my midwife and me) that Pitocin would help things move along and is our best bet at this point. In her words "if cord prolapse occurs, it is game over for a vaginal birth. This is something we need to do to make this situation as natural as possible." I did not want Pitocin, but the truth of her words was clearly inarguable. We started a very slow drip. I should mention at this time that my nurse, Tammi, was awesome. She was so calming, helpful, and full of words of wisdom. I don't know that I would have made it through without her by my side. We noticed that Jo's decels decreased in frequency and degree when I was standing upright, so I spent most of the next 5 hours standing next to my bed, swaying continuously, staring at Mario (a character on one of Jo's diapers) during contractions. I repeated "Blah, blah, blah". and "relax" during the tough ones. My mom (who was replaced by my dad in the care of the boys around noon) was right with me, talking to me and helping me through.
Suddenly, at 6pm, a clot the size of a tennis ball falls out onto the floor and I start gushing bright red blood all over the place. I panic, ring the nurse, who comes in and checks me out. I am at an 8, but baby is still high. I am now being monitored by the high-risk doc who decides I need to be sitting or lying down at this point. My contractions are coming about every 2 minutes and lasting a minute each. At this point, my CNS is taking a bit of leeway and I am shaking involuntarily all over. Hoping its transition, with my mom rubbing my leg soothingly, I continue. But our problem is now Josephine. She is having "deep decels" with each contraction, clearly not tolerating whatever is happening. I get checked twice more between 6pm-8pm and am stalled at 8cm. I ask about an epidural, hoping it might take me off the plateau I seem to have reached. Anesthesia is in another room, giving an epi to another patient, but if I want one they will come give me one next. I really don't want or need one, I am still okay with the contractions. The doc comes in and talks to me about the gushing blood and the decelerations of Josephine's heartbeat. She gives me the basic run-down of what could happen from here on out (fairly terrifying options, really). She checks me at 8:15 and I am at a 9 (finally!!) and she suggests that with each contraction I give a little push to potentially move Jo down and get that last centimeter out of the way.
At 8:23, I let out a guttural scream that sends dozens of people, including the terrified looking doctor, into my room. Before the doctor fully gets garbed up I push three times in three minutes and Josephine AnnaLee comes rushing into the world (8:26pm, exactly 12 hours after my water broke). She came along with a clot the same size as her entire person and more blood than I have ever seen in my life. The doc is moving fast, cutting her cord, moving stuff around, and finally saying "Yeah, that was an abruption. It's been there a while."
But I am not paying attention. I am looking at my amazing baby girl, who looks impossibly small, impossibly gorgeous, and I am wondering how it is possible I have been blessed with the best gift of all for a third time. She is just staring at me in wonder, all covered in blood and vernix. I don't even notice all the gunk going on, but I do have to give a push or two for the placenta after a few minutes. It comes out, mostly grey and black, with a jagged side,but it's amazing for the fact that even unhealthy and damaged it has kept my baby girl safe enough to join us.
She is 7lbs on those nose and 21 inches long (Ha...8.5lb estimates, my behind!). A virtual string bean. Her eyes are a deep blue-grey and rather soulful. She has black hair mostly on the back of her head. And the poutiest little kissable cheeks. She gets 9s on both of her Apgars and is the picture of health. We are in love, again!! We are given all the birth bonding time we want, exactly as I wanted.
We had mine and Jo's guardian angels with us for her birth. Not only was I moments away from a knocked-out c-section (apparently when the doc left the room at 8:15, she told the nurses that we would be heading to OR momentarily), but I had been bleeding internally for the previous two weeks, which could have presented a whole host of problems. Not the least of which could have been fetal demise or maternal hemorrhaging. I truly cannot believe the string of events that occurred, or the fact that multiple medical establishments missed the combination of signs, but I am ever thankful for my healthy girl and mostly getting the birth I wanted. Far from the ideal I had imagined, but also far better than how things could have gone along the way.
(So, still LONG, but hopefully not completely boring to read!)
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