Friday, August 28, 2009

Caleb's Birth Story

Preface: A week prior to his arrival my OB had informed me I was already effaced 70% and dilated 3 cm. I was ecstatic and couldn't wait to hear additional good news the following week (assuming progress obviously had to have been made). On Thursday, July 30th, I went to my appointment and eagerly had my internal exam. To my extreme disappointment, no changes had reportedly occurred. After all of the walking I had been doing daily, as well as feeling like I had something like the flu, I was upset to say the least. It was 5:30 pm by the time I left my OB's office and I sobbed the entire way home. When I got home, I told Brent how upset I was...I was physically miserable and couldn't bear the thought of going much longer (at this point I was 5 days away from my due date). To help cheer me up, we ordered a pizza and rented a movie to relax that evening. I chatted with my friend Michelle around 9:00 pm, retelling the whole doctor visit while she attempted to encourage me. A little later, Brent and I finally settled into bed, totally unaware that in less than a few hours, our son would be born!

At midnight I awoke with major cramping and contractions. I hadn't felt anything like that sensation before. It was nothing like the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been experiencing all week. I began using the relaxation techniques that we had been trained with, attempting to relax all my muscles, allowing my body to let go, and breathe slow, deep abdominal breaths. I remember thinking to myself, "If these are not real contractions, I'm afraid to find out what real ones feel like..." I didn't want to wake Brent unnecessarily, so I laid in bed a little while longer, watching the clock to see the spacing between contractions. At about 12:30 am, I left our bedroom and headed into the den. I grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil and began tracking the time each contraction began. Each one seemed to grow in intensity and come faster than before.

It was getting quite rough at this point...I began trying all of the laboring positions we had learned: side-lying, kneeling, all fours, etc. The pain was so intense. I had desired to labor at home as long as possible for comfort reasons, as well as to confirm that I was indeed in active labor. I was not about to be turned away from the hospital for false labor. At 2:00 am, I waddled my way back into the bedroom and sat on the edge of Brent's side of the bed. It was still dark in the room, and I nudged his arm some to awaken him. He slowly turned over and all I could do at the time was breathe heavily and hold my belly. I told him, "I think I'm in labor..." After a few minutes of catching him up on the past two hours, we began to get things ready.

Thankfully, we had already packed our bags, but there were things like toiletries that still needed to be packed. My contractions at this point were coming every minute, and I could barely walk, move, do anything in between them. I remember attempting to go to the bathroom before leaving, and the whole process probably took five minutes, simply trying to lift my underwear back up, flush, and get up. Meanwhile, Brent was scurrying around, packing, but also wanting to confirm that I was in true labor. He was carrying a timer for the contractions and asked me to let him know when I was having one. I began moaning and groaning at this point. He asked, "Are you having one now?" (This is the first time I snapped at him) I said, "IF I'M MOANING, THEN I'M HAVING A CONTRACTION!!!!" LOL! Poor sweet Brent....

The next step was literally getting me to the car. Since we live in a condominium complex, this a little easier said than done...especially when you're having contractions a minute apart, live on the second floor, and have the furthest away assigned parking space. To be honest, I don't remember getting to the car. Brent was already there packing the trunk and placing a towel in my seat in case my water broke on the way to the hospital. Before we got in the car, Brent suggested we try to walk some around the parking lot. Our birthing instructor had suggested this, because if you're in true labor, walking only intensifies the pain, but if false, then usually it will subside. We're alone in the dark parking lot at 2:30 am, and I begin to walk. I got about fifteen feet and grabbed onto Brent's neck and held on for dear life. I believe it was then, that Brent realized, this was the real deal.

As with walking to the car, I don't remember the ride to the hospital. It was simply a blur, and my eyes were closed most of the time dealing with the pain. At that time of morning, it literally would take five minutes to get there. I could've sworn it took thirty. Every bump in the pavement felt magnified times ten.

We wheeled up to the hospital, Brent grabbed a wheelchair and we began the trek inside. (When we had gone on the maternity tour, we were instructed to go to Admissions first which was on the ground floor, then we were told to proceed to the fourth floor, Labor & Delivery). Brent wheeled me over to the Admissions office which was completely dark and locked and said, "But we're supposed to go here first..." (This was the second and last time I snapped at him) I said, "GO TO THE 4TH FLOOR!!!"

We get to the desk and a game of 20 Questions begins and I'm required to answer. Yes, the woman who can't open her eyes because of pain is getting asked, "What's your Social?" Okay, this is exactly why we did the pre-registration; where did all that information go? I think the woman got my drift and I was whisked away to Triage where I was to be checked for dilation. Here, my personal equivalent of an Olympic event was asked of me. The nurse told me to move from the wheelchair to the bed, and to put on a gown...all without her assistance. This is that point in the movies where a patient yells at the top of their lungs, "NURSE!!!!!" I swear angels got me undressed in that moment...there's really no other way to explain it. I somehow managed the nurse's requests in the now thirty seconds of rest between my contractions. After checking me, she informed me I was now 100% effaced and 6 cm dilated. Holy moley....I was going to have a baby. And soon.

I was wheeled to a labor & delivery room where consent forms, monitors, and a nurse were busily getting me ready for Caleb's debut. Meanwhile, I'm still having monstrous contractions, and as I previously blogged about, we were planning for a natural childbirth. Due to the speed of my contractions and the fact that I was having barely any rest or time to "get on top of" the contractions, we made the decision to opt for the epidural. I am thankful that in that moment, I did not feel like a failure or any less of a woman because I chose the epidural. I also didn't want Brent to be disappointed in me (and he wasn't). After receiving the epidural, the normal Megan returned. It was actually quite comical, because up until that moment, I had had several women (nurses and anesthesiologist) working quite ahem personally on me, and I hadn't even introduced myself! Imagine, what self-respecting southern woman would do such a thing? I literally began introducing myself to the staff, thanking them for their help, and apologizing for my uncouth behavior prior to the epidural. LOL!

Shortly thereafter as I was lying in bed peacefully, I felt a gush of really warm water. Naturally, I thought, "Did I just pee on myself?" And then I realized, "No, that was definitely not pee...and oh great, I just created a big mess on the bed..." I tell ya what, the whole labor & delivery process gets a girl beyond the ick factor concerning bodily fluids. Have mercy! And God bless those nurses....they see and do it all for complete strangers. Brent got a little woozy after accidentally witnessing my water break and sat down on the couch nearby. This is the man who looks away and shivers during medical reality shows. Poor sweet Brent...

Meanwhile, my labor was progressing quickly still and Brent liked watching the monitors while my contractions spiked and peaked, each one doing its intended work, bringing me one step closer to meeting my precious boy. I was still able to feel them by pressure, but it was certainly a relief to not feel the overwhelming pain I had been experiencing before. By 7:30 am, I was at 10 cm. Like a lot of OB/GYN practices, you don't know which OB will be delivering you, until the appropriate time comes. I was so happy that my favorite OB was going to be delivering me. :) God had indeed worked everything out. Dr. B. visited and checked me, said he could feel Caleb's head and based on palpating my tummy, guesstimated that Caleb would be less than 8 pounds. I must've had a surge of the epidural, because I outright laughed in his face and said, "Yeah right! He'll be more than that!" I then asked him, "You wanna make a bet?!" He laughed and smiled and continued the exam. He informed me another woman was about to deliver, so I would most likely see him again after that.

From about 7:30 to 8:30, I took a quick nap, knowing the hardest but most rewarding work of my life was about to begin. I wasn't sure what to expect concerning the coaching portion of pushing, but I was really surprised that only a nurse was with us. It felt so intimate, just the three of us. From 8:30-9:00 she coached me with pushing. This was the hardest part, because I was trying to get Caleb's head wedged beyond my pelvis. She brought a mirror in to help me see and understand what we were trying to accomplish with each forceful push. It was the strangest thing to son's head getting closer and closer to crowning. Brent was an amazing husband throughout all of it, holding my leg, encouraging me, and simply loving me. He had told me previously that he was just going to be looking at my face during the delivery, but then he realized that he had the awesome chance to witness a miracle in real-time.

After thirty minutes, I had finally gotten his head wedged beyond my pelvis, and this was the fun part. Yes, I said fun. I knew I was only minutes away from holding my son in my arms, and this gave me the most determination in my life. Meanwhile, Dr. B. still had yet to make it back into my room, but the sensation that you're experiencing then, is that "It's time to push, and push I will!" Suddenly, my nurse had stopped saying "Push, Push, Push!" and was now saying, "Don't push! Don't push!" since Dr. B wasn't back yet. He finally came in, and could barely get gloved, gowned, and masked in time for the delivery.

I was grunting and pushing like my life depended on it. These pushes felt different than the other ones, because it felt good to push, and I felt relief...much like a bowel movement.

At 9:33 am on Friday, July 31st, 2009, with a loud wail Caleb Sheridan came into the world. I was a blubbering fool, bawling tears of joy and relief. The moment was surreal. Brent was laughing and crying at the same time. Holding Caleb in my arms for the first time was just amazing. I remember saying, "My lil pudge..." After some cuddling and Brent cutting the umbilical cord, the nurses began working away, taking measurements and such.

So what did my precious little boy weigh? He weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces! When we heard that news, I laughed and told Dr. B., "You owe me an ice cream!" He was 21 inches long too. To watch video of the birth, click here...

We are so blessed to have a healthy little boy who is teaching us so much about patience, dependence on God, humility, and God's sovereignty. Today marks Caleb's 1 month birthday! :) Happy 1 month, little one!!!