HUGE warning - if you're squeamish, you should move on. The actual act of child birth is not necessarily a 'pretty' sight in the first place, and let me just say that Jacob's birth was anything but normal....
Second thing - I've not written this post to please others. I've written this for ME. After all, I do use this blog as my journal and that's exactly what this post is meant to be. I've never sat down and written this story out because, well, there are SO many emotions that have had to be worked thru and sometimes just thinking back to his birth is difficult for me. So, if you're in for the long haul of this post, you might want to go grab a cup of tea before you begin reading because it's sure to be a long one.
My pregnancy with Jacob was fairly uneventful. A little nausea and exhaustion in the beginning, a painful sciatica during the mid-months and a sleepless last few weeks were really all I had to complain of. Nothing of note really. The only thing I look back on and feel that I could have changed was the 53lbs I gained!! I had the first-pregnancy-syndrome that many get. You know the one where you think you have the right to eat whatever, whenever you'd like because you are eating for two now........ I was also working full time and I think that played into eating more convenience foods than I probably would have otherwise.
Michael and I took the childbirth classes that the hospital offered and I felt extremely confident going into this. I have an extremely high tolerance for pain and felt that I would fare pretty well. I decided on no epidural (due to a family history of complications) and because it's just my nature, knew there'd be no way to convince me otherwise - even in the midst transition.
My due date was January 9, 2004. I went in on January 12th, very early, to be induced since he was measuring a little big and I was sooooo uncomfortable. The nurses got me all prepped - and one even tried to convince me that I wanted the epidural as an option - UGH - but I held firm. The pitocin was started around 6:30 am (I was already dilated a little so I didn't need any cervical treatment) and I began contracting pretty quickly. Although I had no idea I was contracting because at that point I couldn't feel any of them, but the monitor said otherwise.
When the dr. came in on his morning rounds he decided to break my water. Sidebar - I'm not really sure why I let him do this, but maybe I just didn't know any different. Then in a minute or two I remember saying "oh, so that's what a contraction feels like!" After that they got quite intense and gradually got stronger - as they are suppose to. I don't really remember a whole lot of what went on during the labor other than changing positions a lot, having Michael put on some classical music, not being able to get out of bed because they had put a scalp monitor on Jacob's head and had inserted an internal contraction monitor in my uterus (another "why did I let them do that?"), and being VERY uncomfortable. But because I was taking things one contraction at a time I was dealing just fine.
I got the urge to push at about 2:30pm (8 hours into labor), so the nurse was called and sure enough, I was fully dilated!! But Jacob was still at a -3 station (meaning his head wasn't fully engaged) so it was probably going to take a while to get him moved down. After about an hour of pushing the dr. came in to check on things and discovered that Jacob had actually turned his head to a transverse position. Basically instead of being on his belly with his head straight, he was on his belly with his head turned to one side. This made it extremely difficult for him to 'fit' properly and that was causing the delay in him dropping. After another hour or so of very creative pushing positions trying to get him to turn back on his own with no luck, the dr. decided it was time to try to manually turn him using forceps.
My nightmare began at that very moment because the dr. told me I would need to have an epidural because it would be an extremely painful procedure. OK.... I continued pushing until the anesthesiologist arrived and then had to manage to somehow NOT push while I was getting the epidural. Epidurals are not instant, they take a few minutes to work, so while I was 'numbing up' the dr. got everything ready. But something just wasn't right. I developed horrible pain (that I had not had prior to the epidural) just to the left of center at about bladder level. Stabbing pain and no one was doing anything to me for me to feel this kind of pain. Meanwhile I'm still contracting and still have the urge to push and can also still feel my left side pretty well. They gave me another dose of the epidural meds and he even adjusted the catheter in my spine a little to see if maybe it went in too far or something. Still no relief, but onward we must press.... So, the dr. decides that even though I have this "window" of pain, he's going to do the forceps turn anyway. He slides them in, turns Jacob's head, removes them and I feel Jacob 'flip' right back. Turns out, he had turned completely on his side, not just turned his head.... "I'll give this one more try" he says. And the same thing happened........... By now, I'm totally exhausted because I had already been pushing for 2 hours before this epidural/forceps thing and when he says that he just doesn't think it's going to work and I'll need a c-section I'm eager to just get it all over with and have a healthy baby.
The anesthesiologist gives me one more dose of epidural meds and they prep. me for the surgery. Michael gets in his cute little paper outfit complete with booties, hat and mask and is told to wait until they come get him. They take me down the hall and wheel me into the brightest room I've ever been in. Then the anesth. does this little thing to my skin - the only way I can describe it (because I couldn't see what he was doing) is like a pin prick. He made lots of little pricks with something sharp over the area where the incision would be - to see if I could feel anything - and he gives the all clear, that the outer layers of my skin are numb..... Sidebar - this seems like a huge problem to me - just because the surface of my skin seems numb technically doesn't mean anything under it is (remember, I still have pain). They get everything all ready and the dr. comes in to begin the surgery.
He begins cutting and cauterizing and is going from his left to right (started on my right). When he crosses midline I begin the feel the searing pain of him cutting me and the intense heat from the cauterizing tool. I let out a YELP of somesort and in a breathless (in tremendous pain) sort of way tell him that I can feel what he's doing.... He responds with something to the extent of am I sure it's pain and not just pressure? HELLO everything was fine until you crossed over to the area where all the trouble was to begin with..... Everything stops and I get ANOTHER dose of epidural (cause the first 3 didn't work, so let's try one more just for good measure!) and when that didn't work, I was given several shots of local anesthetic to actually numb the nerves in that specific area. FINALLY some relief......
The procedure resumes and they deliver Jacob's head, but then there's trouble delivering his shoulders. So, a nurse lays across the top portion of my belly and begins pushing toward my feet and then another nurse is around the bottom area of my belly pushing toward my chest. Turns out they were trying to 'pop' him out withouth causing any damage to the incision. This was incredibly painful and I couldn't breathe very well because of all the force being applied to my body. But, in just a minute or so (though it seemed like 10) his shoulders slipped right through and then the dr. lifted him out (by this point I was already crying from the extreme amount of pain I was experiencing) - 6:28 pm. He cried and gurgled, etc. and the dr. said "here, look quick" because you're going to sleep so we can fix you up without any more pain..... Goodnight. Sidebar - my medical records say that he was delivered with 'moderate difficulty'!! What a joke!
I woke up from the general anesthesia in recovery and immediately asked two things 1) what time is it? and 2) how big is he? It was a whole TWO HOURS later when I finally woke up and Jacob weighed in at 9lb 15oz, 23.5" long and a head circumference of 15.5". Yep, a toddler right there in our midst!! I couldn't even hold him when I first woke up because they had him in the warmer with a thermometer thing strapped to him. I had to wait for the nurse to come back and get him for me. I have to say though, they did wait to bathe him (just wiped him off) until after I had held and tried to nurse him.
Jacob ended up being very healthy, we spent an extra day in the hospital because of jaundice, but no other complications, just BIG. I, on the other hand, had a terrible recovery - the extra day in the hospital was actually very nice. Because of the intense amount of trauma I experienced, it took me weeks to be able to come off the pain meds and be able to move around adequately.
While I am extremely thankful that both of us are healthy and have no lasting effects (physically) from this birth, I am at the same time very mournful of this birth. This is in no way the way it was originally intended to be. I grieve the childbirth I lost and am saddened by the way things ended up happening. I experienced severe problems with nursing - probably a combination of the pain I was in and delayed nursing due to having been under general anesthesia and my milk did not come in for a full SIX DAYS. I also had what I now believe to be some sort of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - different than post partum depression - though I was never diagnosed. Compound on this the fact that we lived 1,100 miles from my family and Michael deployed to Kuwait when Jacob was only 6 weeks old for 4.5 months and you have yourself a new mom who has just experienced a horrible birth, with no help at home, very few friends (and all of them work full time) - though the friends I had were incredible!!, no breaks and I was working from home at that point. This also means there was no one around to tell the dr. I was having these problems and no one that saw me consistently enough to even be able to tell something was wrong.
All I have to say is God is amazing! I never could have made it through such a trying time without Him leading the way. Amazingly, through all this, my faith never waivered. I do remember asking "why me?" I've since learned to say "why not me?" I do not and may not ever know why this happened to me, but I do know that it has been a tremendous learning experience. I've also learned that things don't always go as planned - even if you are in a right place with God. He will never let me go through something that I cannot handle, even though at the time it may seem that way. I cannot tell you how 'I' got thru this season because I didn't, He did. He also put some amazing friends in my path and the knowledge of what to do differently the next time and the ability to have true sympathy for people who have been thru traumatic situations in their lives.
Tune in in a few weeks for the next segment in the child birth sagas.... Eli's birth story.