Friday, November 09, 2012

Vera June joins us

As the day kept creeping towards me with no sign of natural labor, I had to reluctantly accept the fact that I would be experiencing an induced labor yet again.  I've been trying so hard to create the most meaningful birth experience I can muster, with more prayer and meditation regarding each choice and it's implications.  I really rather wanted to hand over to God the decision of when this baby was ready to come.  However, both my husband and my doctor thought inducing me was the best plan.  We live so far from the hospital, and my last labor had been so quick my doctor almost missed it.

And so my disappointment was accompanied by an equal measure of relief.  A certain aspect of this experience would be familiar to me.  I could feel like an old hand at it.  Except in the end there was nothing familiar about this experience.  That's probably what God had in mind all along.


The biggest thing I did to "prepare" for this birth was to read The Gift of Giving Life.  Ironically the book left me wanting to do tons more to prepare, but in my real life discretionary time proved to rare to accomodate such things.  But the impression that essays like this one left with me was that I needed to leach all the meaning I could out of this experience.  And that meant feeling more of it.

And so I'd had a brief conversation with my Doctor about foregoing the epidural.  (Never mind the part where we'd have been paying cash for it.)  And it turned out that my labor and delivery nurse had elected to have her 3rd baby without an epidural, and was very prepared to support me in that decision. I hunkered down inside in a place where I didn't allow any other options, and laid in wait for an experience that I knew would exceed anything I could anticipate.  Ideally I'd have been all prepared for hypnobirthing or something, but as it was there was a fair amount of banshee screaming that was destined to be a part of that day.

It would happen to me that after I had decided to see that experience through to the other side, it would get drawn out for unnecessary hours.  My doctor had made an error scheduling her day, and so while they went ahead and started the pitocin early in the morning, they waited to break my water (which is what really gets my body started) until almost 3 pm.  We had a baby by 4:45, but from 10 am to 3 pm I just got to feel a long parade of not-particularly-productive contractions and incredible antsy-ness.  In my brain I was going to have had a baby by noon, so the extra hours of the experience gave me a chance to see how impatient I am.


But after my water was broken things escalated quickly and my pain became increasingly real and unavoidable.  There really are a remarkable number of ways to parallel childbirth with the atonement, and they flashed before me as I stared down the incredible task of birthing this baby.  Primarily my mind kept drawing back to Christ "knowing how to succor his people" because he's felt the fulness of their experiences.  I called upon that promise every 2 minutes for a small eternity.  I had a hard time speaking in between contractions (and certainly couldn't during) so I couldn't communicate much.  That left me excruciatingly thirsty by the end, and when I could think straight or contemplate speaking most of what I was tempted to say was, "I thirst."  Did I ever.  As I stared down an unbearable experience that simply had to be born, by me.  It was so good for me.  The last reluctant bits of me finally growing up and being born the mother of a girl who may someday be a mother.

I made the uncomfortable climb onto the bed to get checked and was told I was at a 7.  My spirits failed a bit, I had no idea how long it was going to take to get to the requisite 10 and I was feeling that I was at my limit.  But we moved my sad-face-self back down to the birthing ball and I started praying for strength.

I 'd been on that birthing ball less than 5 minutes when transition hit.  I worked very hard to be able to say "I'm feeling pressure." And by some miracle my body made it back again to the bed.  Someone was retrieving my doctor, I had one more horrible contraction, and it was time to push.  There was a battle going on between the pain of pushing and the pain of not-pushing.  My instincts were luckily sided with pushing, but they brought with them some crazy lady who screamed like I'm pretty sure I can't.  I have no idea where the ability to scream like that came from, but I do feel like I ought to apologize to anyone in the Labor and Delivery unit who had to hear her.  I must have scared a few people into not having kids.

Oddly enough, I had a 2nd degree tear and don't recall being able to feel it happen at all.  Stitching it up, however, I felt far more than I wanted to.  Feeling every bit of the process of pushing a head, and then a body, and then a placenta out was primarily intense, secondarily weird, and also incredibly present.   But oh, how I screamed through it.  I remember my mother's voice telling me that the baby had hair, and then that she really and truly was a girl.  I don't think I opened my eyes much between when transition hit and when my stitches were finished.  Thankfully our baby girl performed beautifully, breathing and reflexing and crying perfectly.

Unfortunately since I hadn't eaten all day both her blood sugar and mine were dangerously low.   I got to shaking uncontrollably (again) and we had to monitor her blood sugar religiously for the next 12 hours.

My postpartum nurse started things out by asking my how my pain was on a scale of 1 to 10.  My answer?  "Well, Now that I know what a 10 is....... "

Mr Renn picked her name.  We had narrowed down a list of about 10 names, and I absolved myself of the pressure to "pick the best/right/perfect one."  Whatever we picked I knew it would be a name I had liked, and we would get used to it and it would fit her perfectly once we started using it.  As long as he picked a name from the list, I was on board.  It took us just a few minutes this time instead of the day-long ordeal of naming our gentleman.

The rest of that first day is kind of a fog - I had a fever we had to get down.  The baby had low blood sugar we had to get up.  And there was a steady stream of fan club coming through to hold this baby girl that had been built inside of me. (I think at one point we had 16 bodies in my room.)  It was nice to be so supported.  Although at that point I had enough percocet in my system that I was prone to aimless rambling, and not the best of company.

The hospital appeared to be either understaffed or else excruciatingly laid-back.  Despite 3 or 4 reminders via the call-nurse button our baby didn't get her first bath until almost midnight, but she sure charmed everybody with her button nose and head of hair.  Nobody can decide who she looks like, and she changes so much almost hourly that it's hard to peg what "her" look is anyway.


The most exciting visitors we got at the hospital were her 3 older brothers.  Our gentleman showed up with some road rash on his face (boys - sigh), and all 3 of them were wired.  BUT they were so excited to see and touch and love on their baby sister.  All of them wanted a turn holding her.  For a moment the gentleman was worried he wasn't going to get a turn, and boy howdy did that make him upset!  They are all still quite smitten with her, and fond of just looking at her with big goofy grins on their faces.

Renn stayed that first night with me in the hospital and we both pretended to sleep.  I think I got one good 2 or 3 hour stretch in (I was SO exhausted), but they kept bringing the baby in to feed whether she was awake or not (in the name of blood sugar.)  It made coming home sound that much more enticing.  Luckily we were able to get everybody's vital signs to where they should be and got released from the hospital after a 24 hour stay.  Then we drove home in rush hour traffic.

It has been mostly lovely to be at home, (you know with a few moments of panic and overwhelmedness thrown in to balance it all out.)  We are figuring each other out, and my body is healing as best it can.  I'm having enough emotional moments that I can't find it in me to remove the bow they glued to her head in the hospital (maybe tonight?)


I've weaned myself off the Loritab, so I can speak in complete sentences.  Or I could IF I could stay awake to. I'm remembering my utter reliance on swaddling blankets and oxyclean.


So yes - pinch me, she's real.  And we get to head into the holidays with a bundle of newness and a redefined family unit.  I'm pretty sure that is the best way to do it.



Camille Spence said...

Even as painful and scary as your story reminds me how my labor and delivery went down over a year ago...holding that sweet baby of yours has made me want another of my own so fiercely that my heart aches for that next baby to join our family.
Let me know if you need some company. I will gladly snuggle that baby of yours. I will also come play with your bigger babies, Sadie had way too much fun with them tuesday! Poor girl gets lonely when it's just me and her...I'm not nearly as much fun or energetic as your three little boys!

Angela said...

She is beautiful! I had Spencer natural and did 21 of my 25 hour labor with Timothy epidural free. How well I remember screaming and painful climbs in and out of bed! I'm glad you all came through it well. If you need our baby swing feel free. Timothy prefers his bouncer. In his three months of life I think he's only been in the swing twice and that was over a month ago. Hang in there!

Aby Runyan said...

She is simply beautiful. Congratulations!

luvs, aby

Kermit~the~Frog said...

Just lovely, Em! Great work.

My husband and I had a mind-blowing experience with our second natural (first on purpose) birth, our third child. Simply amazing.

And don't worry about the screaming; I screamed all five into existence, hypbirth on board or not.

Kermit~the~Frog said...

Just lovely, Em! Great work.

My husband and I had a mind-blowing experience with our second natural (first on purpose) birth, our third child. Simply amazing.

And don't worry about the screaming; I screamed all five into existence, hypbirth on board or not.

Jessy and Adam Baird said...

So cute Em and I love the name! Congrats you guys!

E n D said...

Way to go Em! Vera is beautiful and we are so happy for your family!

Aubrey said...

Oh, she is lovely. You're writing, also lovely. Birth is a complete miracle, there is no other word to describe it. Congratulations on your miracle!

Ashley said...

She is beautiful Em! And I always love to hear a birth story. :)

Heidi said...

Oh, the hair! She is beautiful! You did an amazing job, and I'm impressed that you made it through without the epidural. Best of luck adjusting, and let us know if those of us here in K-town can do anything to help in any way. We'd love to be given that chance.

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