Thursday, January 3, 2008

Gage's birth story

In honor of Gage turning one week old, here's the story of his birth...

Mat and I went to my Wednesday afternoon (12/26) doctor's appointment together. Since I was now five days overdue, Tanya had scheduled an ultrasound to check the health of the baby and the level of amniotic fluid and the status of my placenta. The baby looked great on the ultrasound and so did my fluid levels and placenta. Based on measurements the tech made, she estimated Gage would weigh 8 lbs 3 oz. Mat asked her how reliable the measurement was and she said it could be off by plus or minus a pound a half. We had to laugh at how unreliable the measurement was! Turns out we were right to laugh!

Tanya checked me and found I was dilated to 3 cm, up from 2 cm the week before. Since I wasn't making any real progress on my own, it was a good thing she had scheduled me for an induction the next day. My appointment at Women's Hospital was at 7:30 AM.

Thursday morning Mat and I got up around 5:30 and began to get ready to leave the house around 7:00. At 6:20 the phone rang. When I checked the caller ID, it was the hospital. The woman calling asked me if I had had my baby. When I said no, she said they wondered when I didn't show up for my 5:30 appointment. 5:30? No, I said, my appointment was set for 7:30. The woman explained they had just one bed left, so I needed to get to the hospital quickly or I would lose my spot. Mat and I flew out of the house and over to Women's. I practically ran into the admissions waiting room and the woman at the admit desk knew immediately who I was. They still had a room for me! Phew. I was not going to go back home without a baby in my arms!

I had to sign a few forms and verify my information with the woman at the admit desk, the same woman who had called me. When she saw I worked at Elon she let me know she was a student there. And when Mat came in a few minutes later from parking the car, they greeted each other like old friends. Or at least like professor and student. Small world.

A nurse came and got me a few minutes later and we were on our way! In my labor and delivery room, I changed into a gown and climbed into one of the world's most uncomfortable beds. I met my nurse Kim who put in my IV and started my pitocin drip around 7:00 AM. The pitocin kicked off contractions, mild ones that were about 7 or 8 minutes apart. Since my cervix had already thinned out, I was able to skip the cervix-ripening step that took 12 hours during Braeden's induction.

After a couple hours of pretty steady but still pretty mild contractions, Tanya broke my water. Turns out there's an inner bag of water and an outer bag that I guess is there to protect the inner bag. Tanya broke the outer bag pretty easily, but couldn't break the inner bag with the crochet hook tool because Gage's head was right there. So, she worked at with her finger for a couple minutes and suddenly it broke with a big gush. Even knowing what would happen, it was still a huge surprise! Another interesting thing about the bag of water is that even though it's broken, it's constantly being replenished. So no matter how much you lose, there's always more where that came from.

One of my least favorite parts of an induction is the constant monitoring. They put two belts with monitors around my belly. One registered my contractions and the other tracked the baby's heartrate. Then there's the blood pressure cuff they left on me all the time. Periodically it would inflate and record a reading. Last time around, my blood pressure was sky high and set off alarms each time there was a reading. This time, my pressure stayed low. Each time I had to go to the bathroom, Mat had to come over and unhook the two monitor cords and help me to the bathroom by pushing my IV and carrying my cords. We joked he was like the young kids who used to follow NFL coaches while they paced up and down on the sidelines carrying their headset cords. At least the IV site didn't bother me as much this time around as it did when I was induced for Braeden.

Every half hour or so, Kim would come in to check my progress and ask how my contractions were doing. She was steadily increasing the pitocin level which was increasing the frequency and intensity of the contractions. Unfortunately when Tanya checked me again, the contractions weren't causing me to dilate any further. Kim had thought I would be ready to have the baby around 2:00 or 3:00 that afternoon but that time came and went with no baby and no further dilation. Kim and Tanya talked and decided to drop the pitocin down low in the hopes of jumpstarting my contractions, like a reset on a computer. So, the contractions spaced out to 6 or 7 minutes apart and steadily increased over the next few hours until they were back where they had been.

Because Gage's head had dropped so low in my pelvis, there was a lot more pain with these contractions. I finally had to ask for some pain relief. Since I'm deadset against an epidural, all that left was a shot of stadol in my IV. I used stadol during Braeden's induction too. Kim gave me half a dose in my IV. I asked her how long before it would take effect but almost before the words were out of my mouth I realized I already felt it. The stadol went right to my head! It's been a long, long time since I've been drunk but that lightheaded, dizzy feeling isn't something I've forgotten. And that's how stadol made me feel. I was glad I was laying down with my head on a pillow! The stadol doesn't really take the pain away, but it does make you care a whole lot less about it. I think over the course of the rest of my labor, I had two more half doses of stadol. My memories of the last couple hours of labor are a little fuzzy thanks to the stadol.

In addition to dilating to 10 cm, the other thing that needs to happen is that the baby needs to turn so that his head is lined up with my pelvis. Well, stubborn baby that he was, Gage wasn't turning enough. Tanya had me lie on my left side to let gravity help out. And finally it worked. Gage had turned. And now we were off to the races, even though it still felt incredibly slow to me. Tanya was sure that, like last time, there would come a point when my labor would progress like gangbusters and she was right.

I dilated to almost 10 cm and felt an incredible need to push at this point. But unfortunately there was still a tiny bit of cervix stuck on Gage's head. And that tiny bit of cervix was the only thing standing between me and the joyous relief of pushing. I was pissed! Tanya wanted me to get on my hands and knees again hoping gravity would finish the dilation process. I just didn't think I could do it, but it turns out it wasn't necessary. The next contraction came and I couldn't not push. We were having a baby.

I started pushing with each contraction and in just a few minutes, Tanya was telling me she could see Gage's head and it would just be a few more pushes. My legs were shaking so much I was sure I wouldn't be able to push, but not pushing wasn't even an option. So, I kept pushing and all of a sudden Gage was here! It was amazing, so fast. He started crying right away and peed, not on Tanya the way Braeden peed on Dr. Harper, but it was another reminder of Braeden's delivery. Mat cut the cord and Kim put Gage on my chest as she wiped him down. He was perfect.

Gage was born at 6:50 PM. He weighed 6 lbs 11 oz and was 20 1/4 inches long. I thought it was amazing that Gage and Braeden were born at the same weight. It didn't matter that I carried Gage two weeks longer than I carried Braeden. I guess I just have 6 lb 11 oz babies. It's what I do.

And that's the story of Gage's birth. :) Happy birthday, Gage.

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