Friday, July 30, 2010

Maya Abigail - the story of her birth

On Friday, July 23rd, I went home for lunch as usual and then headed back to work. I got to work about 2:30, sat down at my desk, and then about 15 seconds later my phone rang. It was Christina, and she thought her water might have broke, but she wasn't quite sure. I'll spare you the details, but the hospital nurses have told us sometimes women show up mistakenly thinking their water broke. We debated about what to do, so I asked her to call the maternity ward to get their advice. However, while waiting on the phone, she had some more water leak out, so that was enough to convince her. She called me back and I headed home.

We were well prepared, so by the time I got home Christina had already loaded the luggage, laptop, and car seat into the car. We knew what to expect and knew that we had plenty of time, so we took our time, making sure not to forget anything. We recalled that the hospital would only give you liquid foods to eat, so we took the advice of our birthing class instructor and made sure to eat a decent snack before we left the house.

We got to the hospital, they checked us in, hooked her up to the monitors, and did an exam. She was now 3cm dilated (she had been 2cm two days earlier and for the previous 3 weeks). Her contractions were about 5 minutes apart, though she could barely feel them at this point. The staff made a call to our OB and got us into a room.

From there things progressed slowly. We had hoped to be walking around, changing positions, and using the birthing ball to try and help things along. However, our OB had confined her to the bed since the water had already broke. That meant there could be a possibility of the umbilical cord getting pinch if the baby was up high. The hospital OB said the baby was already descended and engaged and tried to convince him we were alright, but he wouldn't budge. That made us all very mad (just one of a number of things we were becoming unhappy with him about).

By about 8 PM (less than 6 hours after her water broke) she was still only 3cm dilated, so our OB tried pushing us to use pitocin to speed things up. That was another idea we were unhappy about, but luckily this was a decision we could refuse. We said no, and instead Christina tried lying in bed in different positions to help things along. That must have been the trick, because within about 15 minutes she start to feel stronger contractions. By 8:30 PM, they checked again and she was now up to 4cm. By 11:10 PM she had went up to 6cm.

Up to this point, my wife had done everything without pain medication, but it was becoming too much for her, so they gave her a shot of Nubain. That did very little to help, so about an hour later she decided to go for an epidural. It was more important that she not exhaust herself before she even got to the delivery.

After the epidural she was much more comfortable. By 1:30 AM she had reached 8cm dilation, and by 2:45 AM she was 10cm. At 3 AM she began trying to push. She tried and tried for an hour, using every possible position, but nothing she could do could make any progress. By 4 AM, Christina was exhausted, so we decided we'd take a 1 hour break for her to rest and for her body to work on its own. At 5 AM she started pushing again, but within 20 minutes she had still made no progress. The OB said that the baby's head was coning, which indicated she was not going to easily fit through the birth canal. Since the head wasn't even starting to emerge, he couldn't use forceps yet, and he was afraid that with such a tight fit, there may be danger of the baby getting stuck partway out or that the cord may get pinched at some point. We all decided it was in everyone's best interest to go to a c-section.

At about 5:30 am we started making preparations for that. They entered the surgery room without me. I had to wait in the recovery room all by myself while they got things prepared. The waiting felt like it took forever, and I was starting to wondering if they were going to forget to bring me in. After what seemed like an eternity (but was probably about 10 minutes), they brought me in and sat me by Christina's head. There was a big curtain hanging down over her chest so we could not see anything they were doing. I just held her hand and talked to her, trying to comfort her.

Shortly after they made the incision. We could hear the doctor trying to push her back out of the birth canal so we could deliver her through the incision. I heard the doctor say something like "we just can't get a break today", which I thought was really bad, but about a minute later the nurse told me I could stand up and see. When I looked, there was a pool of blood on Christina's abdomen, but it didn't look very gross at all. With all of the surgical coverings, the yellow iodine, and the wrinkled clear tape-like covering, it didn't look gross because nothing I saw resembled any part of the body...

...well, nothing except for the little head that was sticking out of the incision. When the head first came out it was facing away from me. The top back of the head was indeed quite cone shaped. Just a second later, the doctor turned her body completely around and the head was now pointing at me. For the first time, I could see my daughter's face.

Now, I normally keep my emotions well under control. I didn't cry when I got married, I didn't cry when I finally found out Christina was finally pregnant, and all through the labor process I was calm and in control. I expected that when I saw my baby, I would be happy beyond belief, but I honestly did not believe I would cry. That's just not the type of person I am. So imagine my shock when the instant I saw that face, I started crying.

Just a second or two later, they pulled the rest of her body through the incision. They clamped off the cord and cut it (unfortunately I wasn't allowed to do that), then took the baby to the table to be cleaned and examined. This whole time Christina could not see the baby, so I described to her everything they were doing. Finally, after several minutes, they placed a scale where my wife could see it, and they brought the baby over for the official weighing. She got to see the baby finally. They weighed her and measured her, and then wrote on a whiteboard. That's where we saw her stats:
Delivered: 6:05 AM
Weight: 7 pounds, 5.8 ounces
Length: 19.5 inches

They took the baby back to the warmer and called me over to be with the baby. I touched her hands and feet, and then they told me I could take her over to my wife. I picked her up and carried her and placed her right next to Christina's face. She couldn't move one arm because of an IV, and her other arm was really shaking. She was able to use her free hand to touch the baby, but unfortunately there was no way she could hold her. The nurse that had been by my Christina's head the entire time asked if we had a name for her, and she said Maya Abigail.

We were able to stay there for a couple of minutes but then I had to take her back to the infant warmer. Then we left the room to go to the recovery room while they finished the surgery. As I was leaving I saw the doctor removing the placenta. In the other room, I spent a few minutes with Maya and then went to get Christina's mother, who was the only person still there. We stayed with the baby for about 30 minutes before they wheeled Christina into the recovery room. Then her mom visited her for a minute before leaving (only the spouse is allowed in the recovery room).

We spent the next couple of hours in the recovery room. Christina was still shaking terribly from the process (partly due to hormone levels and partly due to a reaction to them stopping the epidural) and wasn't able to hold the baby yet. I carried Maya over several times so Christina could see her. However, Christina was in a lot of pain. They had taken her off the epidural and gave her a 1 dose shot that was supposed to help her and last 24 hours, but it wasn't doing anything. The nurses were surprised she was in so much pain. They restarted the epidural, but that didn't help, so they gave her a shot of Nubain. That made her a little loopy but didn't remove the pain, so they gave her an extra dose of the epidural and then increased the flow rate. That still did nothing. Finally, the nurse convinced the doctors to allow her to use Toradol, and that was the magic dose that made everything better.

Christina slept for at least the next hour. Meanwhile, I spent time with Maya, watched as the nurse gave Maya her first bath and shortened the umbilical cord to a more manageable length (it was originally about 4 inches long), and took a few pictures. By now, I had been up for over 24 hours, and with the room so quiet (Christina and Maya were both sleeping) and nothing going on, being idle was starting to wear on me, so I decided to rest. The nurse told me to go to another room and sleep on the bed and she would come and get me if anything happened. However, I didn't want to be out of the room if my wife needed something or if anything happened (if there was a problem, surely getting me wouldn't be her first priority). So, instead, I took a few pillows and a blanket and made a bed on the floor in the corner of the room.

Sometime between 8:00 and 8:30, Christina woke up. The nurse assessed her pain level and she said she was feeling pretty good, so they moved us back to a normal room. I wheeled Maya there in her crib, while the nurses took Christina in her bed. At 8:41am, Christina finally got to hold Maya for the first time. A short while later I got to change her first diaper. Around 11 AM the lactation consultant showed up and helped Christina with her first breastfeeding. Meanwhile our first visitors were just arriving.

Throughout the rest of Saturday, we got a bunch more visitors, they removed most of Christina's pain medicine (except the Toradol, which they continued through the next day), and she got up out of bed for a short walk around the room. Maya slept pretty well most of the day. She wasn't really getting the hang of breastfeeding, so the nurses had us feed her a small amount from a bottle a couple times. At night, we tried doing the same but it wasn't keeping her satisfied more than an hour. The new nurse suggested we feed her from the bottle as much as she'd take, to keep her content at night. That worked like a charm and she slept pretty well from 1 AM until morning, sleeping for 2-3 hours at a time.

On Sunday morning, they removed Christina's IV. Then I made a brief trip back home. I had forgot to bring my bathroom supplies with me, so I went home to shower, shave, etc. I also took Maya's first cap home so that the cats could get familiar with her smell before she came home. When I returned to the hospital, they told Christina she could take a shower, so I helped her with that. We did a little walking around her room, but not much (it was still very difficult for her). We had some more visitors, and Maya was pretty good throughout the day. We laid out some baby blankets and took some nice baby photos.

Sunday night, we had a lot of problems keeping Maya quiet. Every time I'd lay her down, within 15 minutes she'd be crying again. We tried everything we could think of but had no luck. By 5 AM, the nurse practically insisted on taking Maya to the nursery for a few hours while we caught some sleep. We always knew we could do so at any time we wanted, but were reluctant to hand her off to someone else. This time, we agreed. While we slept, they took care of Maya, gave her the Hepatitis B vaccination, and did a hearing test on her and brought her back sleeping a little before 7 AM.

On Monday, Christina was discharged by the OB, Maya got discharged by the pediatrician, and by 11:30 AM we were on our way out of the hospital to begin our life at home.


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