Friday, June 15, 2012

"Flashback" Fridays: Welcome, Abigail Rose

Now that I've finally gotten it together to start a blog that will capture my children's progress and help me to preserve for them many precious memories, I'm feeling pangs of guilt that I did not start sooner, and get as many moments down for my Abigail as I will do for Michael.

Therefore, I've decided that for the immediate future I'll be setting aside Friday's posts for glimpses back to when Abby was brand-new.  I hope to capture most of her past milestones and memorable moments over time, even as I continue to record all of the emerging ones when they occur.

I'll start with her birth story, which I wrote just days after her birth to share in an online community, and am copying largely unedited below:

So, I've officially made it through my first pregnancy, and wanted to share my story. :)

I've been really stressed out the last few weeks, wanting to be finished and worrying about how I would know when it "was time." And at my 37 and 38 week appointments, I was disappointed to hear that my cervix was high and closed. However, after my 38 week appointment, I finally started feeling contractions, and continued to do so through the week that followed. This concerned me as well, though, because the contractions were so irregular and not painful. I wondered when I would finally get a sign that things were starting to happen. Finally, the night before my 39 week appointment, I noticed quite a bit of bloody show. I was surprised at how much it freaked me out, even though I felt so ready to finally be done. I begged my DH to drive me to my appointment the next morning, because I was feeling apprehensive about how quickly things might begin to progress from there (though fully aware that like many labor signs, it might mean that active labor was close, but didn't guarantee it...)

It turned out to be a good call though. The exam at my appointment revealed that I had dilated 2 cm and was 80% effaced. I was put on a monitor and told that my contractions were about six minutes apart. However, it was not time to go to the hospital yet... My doctor had Tom and I walk around for an hour through the medical center and then come back to see if I had progressed. The walking got me 90% effaced, but no further dilated. So, we had to go home and wait until we got down to less than 5 minutes apart for at least an hour. I was a little disappointed, but starving, and thankful that at least I'd have time to eat a bit before being starved at the hospital.

We put on one of our favorite movies and started timing. I had some light soup and a few pieces of pineapple. By the end of the movie, around 6pm, Tom decided to call the advice line. They wanted us to wait an additional hour, since this was to be our first baby. We walked some more, and all this time I thought I was doing really well, as the contractions had increased a bit in intensity, but were not terrible. I'd had about four relatively strong ones by the time Tom called the advice line again, and they told us to go ahead and check in. I was still doing well by the time we got to L & D triage, but was feeling my exhaustion from about two weeks of not really sleeping, and was devastated when I was told that I was not having strong enough contractions with quite enough frequency, and not having dilated any further since earlier that day, would be best off waiting out the next few hours at home, especially since I went in with the intention of having a totally natural delivery and there was nothing they could do to make me comfortable at the hospital.

As luck would have it, I discovered what “real” contractions were on the way home from the hospital. Wanting to ensure that we would be back at the hospital by later that night, I had some more pineapple and had intended to eat a bit more soup but realized I wouldn't be able to stomach it by the time DH had heated it up. In fact, by that point, I could no longer sit up. I then spent the next three hours or so trying to find ways to lie down, sit down, crouch, or otherwise exist without wanting to die. We even tried a warm bath, which helped at first, but as we have a small tub, I couldn't really get submerged or comfortable enough for it to be much help for long. Needless to say, I was pretty quickly letting go of my dream of a fully natural birth; apart from having far too much difficulty managing the pain, I was feeling my extreme fatigue and worried that if I couldn't get any sleep through the night I wouldn't make it through pushing.

At around 1:30 am, Tom called the advice line again. I soldiered on in the bed while we waited for a call back from the doctor letting us know we could come back. Then we were on our way, and back in L & D triage again, my mind only on the epidural that up until a few hours before I had been terrified to consider getting. By now I was 4 cm and fully effaced, but I had to wait through about twenty minutes of monitoring, and was finally admitted at around 2 am. I was very tempted to scream at any one of the nurses who were happily chatting around me to please get an IV started so I could get my pain meds but I held my tongue (except when I had to moan loudly through a contraction).

Next, I had to wait for the anesthesiologist and was in an extreme state of desperation by the time I finally got my epidural at around 3 am. However, it worked fairly quickly and was quite effective. I slept very sporadically through the night, for 10 and 20 minute intervals, perhaps, but was far more comfortable just lying in the bed than I could remember having been in I don't know how long. I felt a bit of disappointment in myself for giving in, but even looking back now I know I couldn't have done it any other way. The pain was too much, and I needed every bit of rest I could get.

Sometime in the night I was told I'd made it to 6 cm, and a few hours later I was at 8-9. At some point, I felt my water break. By 9 in the morning, I was 10 cm, but was told to wait before I started pushing because it was likely to take a while, being my first baby, so the doctor wanted the head nice and low first. I tried to rest as well as I could, interrupted occasionally as the nurses checked Baby's progress. At 10 am, they decided it was time to start pushing.

It was extremely hard work, made more difficult because I had no urge to push and had to follow along when told to. I also was having trouble figuring out which muscles to use. A mirror was placed in front of me so I could see my progress. I begged the doctor ahead of time not to cut me unless he had to, and prayed as I pushed that I would not tear. A couple of times the doctor massaged me between contractions. However, as we neared the end of the hour-and-a-half it would ultimately take to get my baby out, the doctor realized that Baby was simply too big to fit and I had stretched all that I could. He made a small cut, which I thankfully couldn't feel, and it worked miracles. I pushed hard on the next contraction, and had to be told to stop so that the head, which finally came out, could be suctioned. Just one push more and I finally had my baby girl! And blessedly, I did not tear at all beyond the incision.

I could not believe the size of my baby, and found out in a very short time that I had given birth to a 10 lb, 2 oz miracle at 11:39 am on Nov 3rd, 2010. She was 21 and ¾ inches long.

So, it wasn't the birth I'd visualized, but I think it all went incredibly well, and most importantly, Baby came through healthy and beautiful. I still wish I'd been strong enough to do it all without meds, and maybe if I have a smaller little one in the future, I can give it a try. But I feel very blessed by the whole experience, and I am so glad that even if I didn't give birth naturally, I was still able to do it vaginally, and with a 10-plus pounder, no less!

I wish all you moms-to-be out there an equally successful experience and thank all of you who have helped me through the pregnancy up to this point through your posts and comments. Now I'll go back to enjoying my time with my precious baby girl; I still can't believe she's mine. :)

And so you have it.  The story of my little Abby's beginnings.  And here are some pictures to go along with (not taken by me, of course)...

Just minutes after her birth.
Proud Daddy, holding her for the first time.
All cleaned up, and sound asleep.

Speaking of sleep...  Long day here, so I'm signing off.  Good night.