Friday, January 11, 2013

Born, again

The irony of being me is that after expending so much energy in the direction of not giving birth prematurely, it always comes to this: Come on, baby. Time to be born, already.

And this is exactly where we found ourselves after 20 weeks of progesterone injections, 6 weeks of bed rest, and 4 weeks of Nifedipine. Come on, baby. Come out and meet the world!

Since I have a history of birthing larger than average babies, there's always some anxiety about getting them baked just right. No one wants them to come so early that their lungs aren't up the challenge of breathing on their own, but no one wants them to be so large as to need too much assistance crossing the divide from in utero to fully born, either. It's a fine balance, and one that we've always managed to straddle fairly well. 

This time, there was the additional concern of gestation diabetes. As you probably know, one of the biggest concerns with this issue is the potential for the baby to put on weight --specifically in their chest and shoulders-- and be more difficult to deliver vaginally. Knowing this, knowing my already stretched history in this area ... I spent more than a few hours in prayer, as I'm sure you can imagine.

And when it came down to it, God showed up. My mantra of "God's got this," was in full effect the day that our little man finally came on the scene. (Two weeks later than we had hoped, might I add.) 

For those that revel in such, the birth story follows.

Having been stymied by hospital higher-ups in an attempt to induce labor by breaking my water earlier than "recommended," my OB agreed to strip my membranes on December 26. I was not very confident of any outcome other than a day full of uncomfortable cramping, but agreed-- simply because the only other alternative was to wait until December 31 for another go at breaking the water. This method (rupturing membranes) has always worked beautifully for me in the past. Since I dilate slowly over the course of several weeks or months leading up to my due date, all it takes is a simple pop! and I have a baby. No pitocin, no drama, just me--finally--having a baby.

The morning of the 26th, I was 5 cm dilated, 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant, and dubious. My OB did the "vigorous cervical exam" deed, and I went home. Driving back, I had one contraction. Just one. I shrugged, told Mr. Blandings (who was home for the day) that I was certain this was a useless enterprise, and headed upstairs to nap.

But I never got to take my nap. Within ten minutes of settling in, I was having contractions. Not hard ones, but regular ones. The kind that you peek at the clock and think, "Huh. I just had one 10 minutes ago. Let's see if that happens again."

And it did. For over an hour. Frustrated that I was most likely getting useless contractions rather than useless cramping thanks to the stripping, I got up, announced that I was taking a bath, and grabbed one of my favorite books to read while I soaked. Did I mention that I was super tired, having stayed up a bit too late on Christmas night and having woken up a bit too early that very morning? :-) I admit it-- I was grumpy.

In the bath, I expected things to slow down. Instead, they seemed to pick up. Confused, I called down for Jo to fetch me the iPad so that I could use the contraction monitor app I had downloaded. Sure enough, after half an hour in the tub, a pattern had emerged: I was having fairly strong contractions every 4 minutes. And this is where you will no doubt laugh out loud at this woman who had already delivered 4 babies--

I had no idea whether or not I was actually in labor.

I sent a message down to Mr. Blandings asking him to come up and confer with me on the odds that I might actually have a baby trying to make an appearance. The fact is, I had never just contracted, dilated, and had a baby without the certainty of my water being broken. Without that clear "YES," I was in uncharted territory.

So I stayed in the tub for another half hour, until the contractions seemed to warrant, if nothing else, a check to see if any progress was being made.

I have always said that I felt bad for women driving to the hospital in labor. And while I'm sure it's no picnic for those enduring hard-core contractions, for me, it was not what I expected. Several contractions finally rated on my "I can't talk through this" scale, and I asked Mr. Blandings for my labor song. This is something of a tradition for us. When things get physically intense in the birth process, I hum or sing. Mr. Blandings always picks a song and sings along with me; the same song, every contraction, as long as it takes. This time, he selected U2's "40." 

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He lift me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long...
How sing this song

At the hospital, I convinced the triage nurse to dispense with the routine and just check me, darn it. She did-- and at 7 centimeters, I was fast-tracked to a room.

And at this point, God stepped in and answered every prayer I've uttered regarding the birth of this baby. After Seven's less than peaceful birth, my confidence in my ability to do this whole thing without drugs was shaken to the point of anxiety. I feared the pain, feared the process, and feared falling apart. None of this, as it turns out, was an issue. I dilated quickly, quietly, and with minimal discomfort right up to completion, hitting the necessary 10 centimeter mark singing "40" with my husband and laughing with nurses. And then?

Then I had a c-section.

All along, my secondary prayer had been that, should any intervention be necessary, the right people would be in the right place at the right time, and that I would feel an absolute peace in listening to their advice. When the on-call doctor arrived on the scene, God spoke clearly through her and her actions. The doctor felt all over my stomach, had me change positions multiple times, did an internal exam during several contractions to confirm her suspicions, and then let us decide.

There's a decent chance this baby might not fit easily. I could be wrong. I could be right. You already know how this works. What do you want to do?

So, in the end, we chose the surgical delivery. Many things went into that decision (including my vivid recollections of my mother recovering from a fractured pubic bone and pelvis after my brother's shoulder dystocia and birth), but mostly it was this: Mr. Blandings and I felt peace.

So I sang "40" as I rode to the operating room, experienced my first ever anesthesia, and was prepped. Mr. Blandings and I sang and waited and in just moments, over the blue drape, the doctor held up our vernix-coated, nearly bald, chunky fifth son.

My biggest baby at 10 pounds, 3 ounces. And, if I might add, sporting a set of shoulders that make me think God most certainly had this.

It's been 16 days now, and I can honestly say that after the first week or so, I could barely tell the difference between the recovery from my unmedicated, vaginal deliveries (always accompanied by either a tear or an episiotomy) and this one. Maybe it's the baby bliss. Maybe it's relief that the somewhat arduous journey to bringing this little one safely home is over. Maybe it's just the realization that I had nothing to prove to anyone and don't give a hoot who thinks I copped out and who thinks I made the right call.

Reuven is here. He's healthy and whole. I'm healthy and whole. And together, we're enjoying getting to know one another in the new norm of family life.


Susan Williams said...

So, so glad! Welcome to the world, dear Reuven.
Your Mommy sure does love you!

Kris Thede said...

So glad to read this and that you're all adjusting to the 'new norm'. Praise the Lord.

Traci said...

Welcome Reuven!