Daniel’s Birth – Part 2: Labor & Delivery

 - by Brittny

Friday morning we woke up and started getting ready for the day.  We’d been told that we’d get a call with the time we should come in sometime before 8am.  When 8am had come and gone I called Labor & Delivery to see what time I should come in.  They said they were waiting for some rooms to clear out and to call back in a couple of hours if we still hadn’t heard anything.  So we continued getting ready.  A couple of hours came and went so we called back.  We were told that they were still working on discharging some people but that if we were to head down to Provo and get some lunch it shouldn’t be too much longer.  So we packed up the car and went to Provo.

We took our time at Subway but even after we’d finished our sandwiches the hospital still hadn’t called back so we decided to go bide our time at my sister’s apartment until we were called.  After waiting for awhile I decided to call the hospital again to just see if I could get an update.  When I called the nurse told me she thought I’d already been called and told to come in but that she’d need to have me talk to the charge nurse.  She said she’d have the charge nurse call me back in a few minutes.  Half an hour later when I still hadn’t been called back I decided to just have my mom drop us off at the hospital (we just have one car and my mom would need it while we were in the hospital so she could take care of Sam, so as funny as it seems to have my mom drop us off at the hospital to go have our baby… that’s what we did).  I figured that if we were in the waiting room we’d be more likely to get the attention of the people who would get us admitted.  I was a little bit worried that it would get too late and they’d just tell us that we had to wait until the next week to come in, so I wanted to give us the best chances of getting in.

When we got there we found out that the Labor & Delivery floor was just a really busy place that day which was why it had taken so long to get us in.  We waited for another hour before they were finally ready to admit us.  In some respects I was ok with that, I’d told people earlier that having a scheduled induction reminded me of a quote from Swan Princess – “Go on Jean-Bob, race to your death!”  As much as I really don’t fear childbirth… it’s still not exactly the funnest thing to go through.  So while I wanted to get it over with, I wasn’t in the biggest hurry to get it started either.  But we did finally get admitted and were in the room ready to start the IV at 4:30pm.

Now, in case you somehow read our blog but didn’t know this, I have a pretty severe phobia of needles.  I don’t know where it’s come from or why I have it or even what it is about needles that gives me problems, but I have a tendency to pass out whenever I have to get even minor shots.  Pass out cold, to the point where I turn grey and convulse, and it has taken a few rounds of smelling salts to bring me back to consciousness more than once.  It’s a pretty scary thing to watch (so I’m told) and really not much fun to go through either.  So, as silly as it may sound, getting that IV set up is the worst part of childbirth for me.

So around 4:30pm the nurse looked over my hands and found the best vein and Eric did his best to distract me from the needle so that I could remain conscious.  It took a lot of deep breathing and talking about other things but she got the needle in and was setting it up when I heard her say “shoot, the vein collapsed”…  That was NOT what I wanted to hear.  I was so proud of myself for remaining conscious and to find out that it had failed was a pretty tough blow.  So she went to try and find a better vein on my other hand, and Eric kept doing his song and dance to help keep me conscious… and that vein collapsed too.  So my nurse brought in another nurse and they started hitting my arms to try and bring out a good vein, they found a promising vein… another failed attempt.  So they went out to get the charge nurse to see if she would have better luck.  While they were out of the room Eric asked if I would like another blessing, which I quickly accepted.  It may not take long to read through those three attempts but it had taken about 20-30 minutes of being hit and poked and it was really taking a toll on me.  Even without passing out it’s so draining to try and remain conscious that I was really feeling worn out.  I don’t remember anything that he said in that blessing but I do remember feeling strengthened by it.

The charge nurse came in and hit my arms some more, and used some lidocane to help numb my arms so that it at least didn’t hurt as much, poked around… another collapsed vein.  So they said they’d go try to get the anesthesiologist to come and set me up, since he obviously has good experience with setting up IVs.  When the nurses left the room I started to cry.  Of course the one thing that I have a very difficult time with was what was going wrong.  This was about the worst nightmare that I could have come up with for the delivery.  The crying actually helped me feel better strangely enough, and I think it got my blood flowing a little bit more.  They had also brought in a warm blanket to put over my arms which not only was helping bring my veins out but helped me feel a little better too.

Somewhere in all this my friend Laurel arrived.  Laurel had just completed the first part of her doula training and needed to attend a few births in order to finish her certification.  I had volunteered to be one of her first births primarily because Eric had had a business trip to Japan scheduled when I reached 37 weeks.  That same week my mom had Japanese foreign exchange students that would be in town so she would be unable to help me as well.  I knew that Murphy’s Law would come into play and that I’d end up having the baby by myself.  So I wanted to make sure that I had someone who could be my labor support if the baby decided to come that week (as it turned out Eric’s business trip was cancelled in the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan).  However I’d also been curious about using a doula.  Since I try to birth naturally, and since my mom wasn’t planning on being there for the birth I really wanted to have another woman in the room to help coach me through the process.  Even though I’d done it before, and Eric is awesome, there’s something different that a woman who has been through childbirth can really add to the experience.

Eric asked me at this point if I wanted to just go home and try again another day.  The honest answer to that question was a resounding YES… except for the coming back another day.  I knew that if I left at that point it would be harder the next time to set up an IV because I would be more hysterical knowing that we’d failed this time around without a positive resolution.  The only positive outcome at this point was to get the IV started this time so that whenever I next had to encounter needles I didn’t have an awful unresolved experience that I was coming off of.  So, I told him no, I’d stick it out until we got it set up right.  He then asked if I wanted my mom to come and I don’t think I hesitated long to respond with a yes to that offer.  There are very few people who really understand my needles phobia and how to deal with me and to work with nurses/doctors to help get done what needs to get done, and my mom is one of those people (Eric obviously is another but I think he was getting a little worn out too).

While we were waiting for my mom to come and the anesthesiologist to be available my nurse came back in and said that they had the people who go with the EMTs there that could get my IV set up.  They had some sort of ultrasound machine that helped them find particularly good veins and this was basically their job was setting up IVs.  They were off the clock in a few more minutes so they could either come in and give it a shot now or we’d lose the opportunity for their help.  I only vaguely understood what was happening because I was pretty upset and into the hysterical but luckily I told them to have them come in, even though my mom wasn’t there yet.  So, in came two more nurses with their gear to see what they could do.  More arm slapping ensued and pointing at different veins (most of which had already been the victims of those failed attempts).  I don’t even know if they ended up using their cool machine but after some more lidocane and another needle in my arm they were finally able to successfully get my IV set up.  They didn’t have the right gauge of needle in my arm for some reason but they said just not to tell the anesthesiologist and we’d be ok (apparently it only mattered if I was getting an epidural whether they had the larger needle).  I was SO relieved to finally have that done.  We put my arm down to the side of me and kept it hidden under that warm blanket for the rest of the night.

It had taken 5 nurses, 5 different attempts, 7 needles and 1 hour to get that IV set up.  The main problem was that I hadn’t been well hydrated (totally my own fault, dangit) so my veins weren’t as nice and plump as would have made for an easy IV set up.  But in the end the biggest achievement – I didn’t pass out once!  I didn’t even get super close to passing out!  I was really glad for that because I feel crummy after passing out and not in a state that I want to be in when going into labor.  I was especially proud to have lasted that whole hour of poking without passing out!  I’m SO grateful for Eric helping to talk me through everything and especially for the blessings he gave me.  I know that I couldn’t have made it through all of that without the help that I received from both him and the angels that I’m sure helped pull me through.

My mom came in just as they finished getting the IV set up so she was a little late to help with that but I was still glad to have her there.  They started me on pitocin and the antibiotics and left to let my body do its thing.  My mom recommended that I use this time to take a nap and just rest.  However we’d already decided that it would be good for Sam to come and see where I was and what was going on before things got too intense.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that the pitocin was going to make things much more intense much more quickly than my last labor.  So I had her call my sister to bring Sam over sooner rather than later.  Plus I was a little keyed up from the whole IV experience so I wasn’t likely to be able to really rest for awhile anyways.  I think Laurel left not too long after we got things set up with the IV since there wasn’t much for her to do while we just waited for the contractions to set up a pattern.  It was a good chance for her to go home and take care of her kids and get them ready for bed while she was less needed at the hospital.

So Taylor and Ryan brought Sam over to the hospital, which was really good.  He was very happy to see us and know what was going on, apparently just that short visit helped settle his mind a lot more for the rest of the night.  We’d talked him through the routine of what was going to happen many times before so he wasn’t surprised to see us in the hospital, but I think it was good to really see where we were and that everything was ok.  While they were there my mom stepped out to go get some dinner for her and Eric.  When I’d been in labor with Sam they’d allowed me to eat bread and I was hoping for a repeat of that, however apparently the pitocin is what tends to cause nausea so I was limited to ice chips and water, boo.  At lunchtime I had decided to just split a foot long sub with my mom so that I wasn’t too full going into Labor & Delivery (since I was thinking I’d be in there pretty much immediately after lunch).  I definitely regretted that decision because it was 4 hours later and I was getting hungry, but there wasn’t much I could do about it at that point.  The Lockwoods left with Sam an hour or so later when the nurse came in to check my progress.

I had come into Labor & Delivery dilated to 2cm, about 60% effaced and the baby was floating.  I was told that I needed to get to 3cm with the baby dropped for them to break my water.  My original hope had been that they would be able to just break my water and let things progress naturally from there, i.e. without Pitocin (like we’d done with Sam).  However I found out that with the baby still floating there’s a danger that if you break the water the first thing to drop down might be an arm or a leg instead of a head – which would mean I’d end up having a c-section.  Since a c-section was pretty close to the bottom on my list of things that I wanted to have happen we obviously went with pitocin instead.  I think when the Lockwoods left I was still at 2cm and the baby was still floating.  My contractions hadn’t quite set up a steady pattern yet so they cranked up the pitocin and left us to go again.

In case you were wondering, pitocin is horrible, awful, nasty, mean, no-good stuff.  Even those contractions that weren’t setting up a good pattern were a lot more painful than I remember with Sam.  I had to start using relaxation techniques almost immediately after starting the pitocin whereas with Sam I had about 3 hours before the contractions even started to bother me.

Around 8:30pm they checked my progress and declared that I was far enough along for them to break my water – hooray!  So the doctor came in and broke my water and left us again.  Unfortunately they didn’t turn off the pitocin at that point, but I think they did turn it back a notch.  To give you an idea of what a nasty drug pitocin is, even as my labor was increasing in intensity I got a good deal of relief every time they turned back the pitocin even just a little bit.  Things were picking up pretty steadily and it was definitely taking a lot of concentration, breathing and support to get me through those contractions.

Laurel either came back just before they broke my water or sometime after.  I really wish I had a better idea of when she came back because she was very helpful, but the ensuing hours were sort of a blur.

About 9:30pm the nurse came in and checked me again.  My contractions were less than 2 minutes apart and they were taking all of my concentration and energy to get through them.  The nurse told us that I was dilated to 4cm and I told Eric that I wanted “some something” which he luckily correctly interpreted to mean that I wanted some Fentanyl.  I really don’t like the way the Fentanyl made me feel, I just don’t like the out of control, fuzzy feeling that narcotics give me, but I really needed something to help get me through at that point.  The pitocin induced contractions were really spikey and just more intense than natural contractions.  I wish I could better explain the difference but I can say that I really understand now why women who are induced pretty much always go with an epidural and think they can’t go through labor on their own.  It was helpful to be able to really let go between contractions and rest, and it did take off some of the edge of the contractions, but it definitely doesn’t take away the pain by any stretch of the imagination.  Unfortunately Fentanyl doesn’t last very long and within half an hour the contractions were back to being full force.  As the Fentanyl wore off I was starting to feel like I didn’t know if I could do this with the pitocin.  I started seriously considering an epidural.  If you understand my phobia of needles just the fact that I was considering the epidural should tell you how nasty pitocin is.  But since it had taken so long for me to get to 4 cm I didn’t think I could make it through hours and hours of this super intense pitocin labor.

I think it was at this point that they were having  a hard time picking up the baby’s heartbeat as well as tracking my contractions with the external monitors, so the nurse asked if it was ok to put internal monitors in instead.  Honestly, I really didn’t care at that point so long as it just got done.  In fact the most annoying part was just her explaining the monitors to me, because I just didn’t care.  Plus I’d done my homework and already knew what the monitors were so the idea of them didn’t scare me.  The internal monitors weren’t too bad, and actually I think they were more comfortable than the external monitors, just a little weird feeling as they went in.  I wish in retrospect they’d just put internal monitors in when they broke my water so we weren’t doing it during active labor, but I think they wait to do internal monitors only if the external ones aren’t working well enough because the bother other women.  The nurse checked my progress again and said I was to 8cm.  That was a HUGE relief.  Knowing that I was that far made me feel like I could make it through the rest of the labor.  I think this was around 10:15pm – 10:30pm?  (The only reason I have any sort of timeline is that Eric was posting my progress to twitter, unfortunately this check didn’t make the twitter feed).  I think they called the doctor at this point to let him know I was progressing fast and he probably ought to come in soon.

The doctor arrived within another 15-30 minutes (I really have no idea of how long it was) and they checked me again and I was fully dilated!  So the doctor started scrubbing up to prepare for the delivery.  They were telling me not to push, but that is the hardest part of labor is not pushing when you’re all ready to push.  It’s what makes those last few contractions so hard is not pushing against them.  But since I was fully dilated I knew that there was no good reason not to push from a medical standpoint (before full dilation I know that you can cause the cervix to swell and make labor last longer – that’s enough incentive to keep me from pushing too early).  So, since I knew that it wasn’t detrimental to me or the baby to push at that point, I might have cheated a little and pushed just a little bit to relieve some of the pressure on a couple of the contractions that I wasn’t supposed to be pushing against (shh! don’t tell!).  Finally they said I could push against a contraction and so I gladly gave a  full push.  The doctor still didn’t have his gloves on and wasn’t really watching me yet, but luckily Eric was paying attention and said “Uhm, I think that’s the head”.  To which the doctor replied “Oh!  I guess I’m not getting gloves on.”  He pretty much turned around to see Daniel crowning.  I pushed his head out on the next push.  He told me not to push any more while he suctioned out the mouth and nose.  However, the urge to push was unbearably strong, I think I was able to hold off for maybe one or two urges to push… and then my body took over and said “bite me, this baby is coming out!”… and with another half push out came the rest of Daniel!  To give you an idea of how quickly things went, Eric posted on Twitter that I was fully dilated at 10:56pm and Daniel was born at 11:00pm.  I was not expecting that at all since it took about an hour or so of pushing for Sam to be born.

Daniel weighed in at 7lbs 9oz (ok 8.9oz… but I feel good about rounding that up) and was 20 inches long.  His 1 minute apgar score was an 8 and his 5 minute score was a 9 so he looked pretty good right from the get go.  I think part of what helped him be born so quickly is that he was over a pound lighter than Sam (8lbs 11oz) and his head circumference was considerably smaller too.

Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll tell you about Daniel’s first few hours in the world, meeting Sam and there should be lots more pictures and videos!

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