Sometimes you just need to treasure the ponders of your heart...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Labor Story

I can count the last two weeks in increments of two hours, rubbing my eyes to stay awake long enough to do so, careful to turn on many lights preventing my drifting off to sleep in the middle of my story.

I. Am. Tired.

Tired is insanely wonderful and horrifically lovely. Tired means I am spending sweet moments gazing at my daughter's face while she is nourished.  Tired suggests euphoria...when those heavy little eyes close and her tiny lungs calm down.

I wouldn't trade her for a good night's sleep.

Oct. 19, 2014 - We had Chinese for dinner and were given 3 fortune cookies. This one was legitimately Alia's. 
"A small gift can bring joy to the whole family." She is our gift!
Alia is two weeks and five days old. When I was a kid, I used to count in years, sometimes half years (I'm not 9!!  I am 9 and-a-half, thank you very much!). High school and college made me count in semesters (sometimes I still do that!). After grad school, I started counting in months, or at least planning life out a month in advance. Pregnancy forced me to count in weeks.  Late pregnancy had me counting in days. I suppose now I'm back to an odd mixture of weeks and days, which will soon spread out into months (no, I probably won't be saying "36 weeks" when she's 9 months...but I'm not making any promises). All that to say -- Alia is two weeks and five days old!

I had every intention of posting the labor story on her 2 week birthday, but have I mentioned I'm tired?? I have new-found appreciation for Frozen: the wisest thing I can do in motherhood so far is "let it go" (you're welcome for that song in your head for the next week). Let the preconceived plans of picture-perfect motherhood go (i.e. taking an adorable photo every day, dressing her in a new, cute outfit every day, etc) and choose not to be disappointed in yourself. Hey, sometimes diapers and receiving blankets are best! I'm happy to say I have very few illusions of grandeur when it comes to being the "perfect mom" or the "photo worthy mom". (Side note: this is why I stay off of Pinterest.  Have you ever heard of someone battling their "photo-worthiness"?  Oh, it exists.) I guess my goal in motherhood is to love well and raise a kid who loves Jesus and people so much she could burst. Hmm...another blogpost, another time. SO! The need/desire to post the labor story exactly two weeks after it happened?  I (cue music) let it go...let it goooo!

So without further ado, in all its gory detail, but lack of horror stories:

Alia Grace: A Labor Story


Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014

Lots of crying.  At exactly one week late, I was more and more nervous about the clock ticking down to my scheduled induction on Tuesday morning.  After a week and a half of raspberry leaf tea, miles of walking, hours of bouncing on the medicine ball, spending time with my husband, neck/ankle/foot massages, and commanding my child to come out, I was distraught.  I had been having contractions on and off since my OB had stripped the membranes on Friday.  They were more intense than the false alarm labor the week before, but very irregular and not really painful at all.

By Sunday, I felt a tad failure-ish.  It did NOT help that at least 4 friends had had babies that week.  When was it my turn??  Could I please, God, go naturally and not be induced??

So I cried.  A lot.

Landon's parents got in to town that evening.  My mom, if you remember, had already been here for nearly a week and a half by then.  Though I felt rude, I excused myself for a nap.  Something in me told me I was going to need it.  After a few hours, I felt much better.

And then the contractions started.  I was thrilled.

They increased in frequency and intensity until about 12:30am when I decided it was time to start tracking them.

Monday, Oct. 6, 2014

By 1:30am, the tracking paid off.  It had been a solid hour of 2-4 minute apart contractions.  It was time to call the doctor.  Of course, I knew that I would most likely not see my actual doctor.  She had been on call that weekend and always has Mondays off.  Sure enough, a different doctor, Dr. R called us back and said she'd notify the hospital that we were on our way.

We snapped a few "last baby bump" pictures, dropped my mom off at the parking garage where my car was, and were on our way!

Oct. 6, 2014 - Last Baby Bump
We were shown to a labor and delivery room and met our nurse around 2am.  I was at 4cm, half a centimeter more than I had been on Friday.  Nurse C called the doctor to give her an update and returned later with an IV and a bag of fluid.  "This means you're staying!" she cheerfully chirped.  I had mixed feelings -- Yay! We're staying!  No!  That means I get an IV!  I did my best.  I firmly clenched Landon's hand and kept my eyes fixed on his.  And then I threw up twice.  Charming, I know.  I just don't do well with needles.  I was very, very intentional about moving my IV'ed arm and using my hand, though it took me a while to do much with it.  I was so incredibly aware that it was there.  I could feel it.  I hated it.

I was on the monitors on and off for a few hours, so we took the opportunity to try and nap here and there.  Unfortunately, Nurse C came back to tell me that my contractions had slowed down to 6-8 minutes apart.  We got out of the room and walked the halls for awhile (unknowingly going past our boundary.  Oops!).  The contractions kicked back in at 2-4 minutes apart again.  Still manageable, but painful enough that I didn't want to talk through them.

We returned to our room in time for the shift change.  We sadly said goodbye to Nurse C -- she had been so wonderful.  Very patient, compassionate, and understanding.  She also told us that Dr. R was no longer on call and Dr. W would be in soon to make his assessment of the situation.

Meanwhile Nurse E came in and introduced herself.  She then proceeded to do the worst cervix check ever.  Nazi fingers, I tell ya.  In fact, she was having such a hard time actually finding my cervix that I begged for a break and re-do.  It was not pleasant!!  I was still at 4cm.  Disappointing.

We got up and walked some more.  Contractions continued about 2-4 minutes apart.  Dr. W never came in.  Nurse E came back awhile later and told us that now Dr. G would be looking after us, and she was suggesting pitocin and/or breaking my water.  I told her I was not in a rush and we would like to try to continue naturally.  She rather skeptically respected that and said she'd be back later.

We had been up all night, so again we tried the nap thing.  Again, contractions slowed down.  Again, we tried walking.  Again, they sped up.  But they were not increasing in intensity.  Around noon, Nurse E came back and strongly recommended pitocin again.  Dr. G had suggested that we go home and wait out early labor in the comfort of our own space.  That was NOT an option I was willing to consider.  We were not leaving the hospital without a baby in our arms!!  Nurse E left to allow us to discuss our options.

Basically, as much as I did not want to be induced, if things didn't pick up naturally, it was inevitably going to happen the next morning.  I honestly didn't want to go through the trauma of removing the IV only to have another one placed the following morning.  No way.  Plus, the nurse had made a good point - if we waited much longer to move things along, I would be exhausted when it came time for me to really act.  I was already tired from being up nearly all night.  So after weighing our options, we opted for pitocin.  We staunchly held off on breaking my water except as a last resort.

Nurse E almost gleefully agreed with us, saying that she would start things off slowly, only increasing the pitocin by 1ml per hour and continuously re-evaluate.  If my body took over, then she would decrease the pitocin or discontinue it altogether.  That appealed to me.  She said she would go take her half hour lunch and be back to start it.

She came back over 2 hours later.  Ugh.  Not my favorite nurse we encountered.

It was a little after 3pm when she started the pitocin drip.  I was now chained to the IV bag and had to work past my phobia of actually using the IV.  As soon as it started, my hand and arm became very cold.  I could feel it coursing through my veins.  I hated it.

I decided that since all of my own efforts in moving labor along had failed, I would take the time to actually nap until the pitocin kicked in. It would do its thing without any help from me and I could use the rest. I got a good 2ish hours of much needed sleep.

About 5:30, Nurse E came to tell us that her other patient was about to start pushing and she was handing us off to someone else.  I honestly don't remember who this other nurse was.  I don't remember her name or what she looked like because I think we only saw her twice and I was in and out of sleep.  The big change that came with her was also a doctor change and a difference of opinion in pitocin.  We hadn't actually seen a doctor all day, and we were handed off to Dr. R again - the original one we had spoken with during the initial phone call.  She wanted pitocin increased by 1ml every half hour -- double the rate we had been going.

6:30pm -- The pitocin kicked in hard.  I had been feeling an increase in frequency and pressure, but now they hurt and they hurt a lot.  Now I started needing breathing techniques to get through them.

Dr. R actually came in to see us around 7ish - right in the middle of a contraction.  It was kind of comical how people would pause their conversation until contractions would finish.  I was reminded of jet noise in Virginia Beach, except that jet noise never hurt your insides.  She introduced herself between contractions and spoke to us about our plan for progressing labor.  She asked how far I was dilated.  I told her that I had been 4cm at 7:30am.  "You haven't been checked since then??" she asked incredulously.  Nope, I hadn't.  She checked and - yay! - I was 6cm and 90% effaced.  Awesome.  Progress had been happening!  She wanted to move things along and said someone would come in soon to break my water.  We had been apprehensive of this because it puts you on an 18 hour clock and increases the risk of infection.  However, I did not exactly want to be in labor for the next 18 hours either!  So we agreed.

The shift change happened again at 7:30ish and Nurse C was back!  I was thrilled to see her again.  She was looking much more refreshed than she had at 3am (small wonder!) and was ready to help me have this baby!  A resident came in and broke my water.  I had been told by others that it really hurt when that happened, but honestly, it didn't hurt a bit.  There was actually a bit of relief that spread through me as warm liquid flooded out of me.  It also felt like progress.  I was clinging to anything that felt like progress.  Granted, now I was a mess, but who said labor was tidy??

Early in the day I had heard the woman laboring in the room next to me.  She wasn't all that quiet, and I smiled a bit thinking, "Well, that's the way she is reacting, I wonder how I will react??"  Nurse E had told us she was going unmedicated, too.  I will tell you how I reacted.

It wasn't pretty.

My throat was sore for a few days.

We had gone through the unmedicated childbirth class and learned breathing techniques and positions to alleviate pain, etc.  I felt very prepared.

I wasn't.

We never got past 7ml of pitocin an hour, and I am SO glad.  That was plenty.  I'm curious what natural active labor contractions are like because I know that pitocin creates stronger, longer contractions.  Yeah. They hurt.  I breathed.  I vocalized.  I yelled.  I screamed.  At one point, my throat was sore and dry and I actually choked a bit on a scream that wouldn't come out, but I absolutely needed to make some sort of sound.  I consciously thought, "Put it up in a singing range." So I did.  I mentioned it to Landon later and he said, "Yes!  I noticed that! I actually thought to myself - is she singing right now??"  Obviously, he didn't point it out in the moment (smart man), but it certainly helped. When we had told my OB months and months ago that I was going to try going unmedicated, she supported us but also let us know that going that route can get rather "primal".  She was right.  I am not ashamed. ;)

I know it was hard on Landon because here I was ignoring his breathing coaching.  He had to watch as his wife was mercilessly attacked by her own body.  He was fantastic through it all - applying counter pressure, letting me rest into him, holding my hand, wetting my face and neck with a cold washcloth, giving me water, and encouraging me the entire time.  He was absolutely amazing.

At this point, my concept of time gets fuzzy.  I think it was around 8:30/9 that I moved from the chair that I had been straddling (an excellent place to endure contractions and help them along, I might add!) to the bed for a little relief.  Landon was in bed behind me, holding me, and helping me relax. Finally, I asked a little pitifully, "Is it time to push yet??"  "Do you feel like you need to?" Nurse C responded.  "Yes," I answered, praying I was right.  Nope.  8cm.  She told me absolutely not to push because if I did too soon, it could cause the cervix to swell and we'd be moving backwards.  Awhile later, I asked again.  Nope.  Still 8 cm.  Some time later, again.  "Not yet, you still have some cervix left."  She stopped using numbers -- because I was still at 8cm.

She suggested I get in the tub, I think to slow things down a little bit and give me a chance to rest.  Very, very sadly, I was not able to use the jets because I was on the portable monitors necessary with pitocin and they would just pick up the jets and not the baby's heartbeat.  That was probably the most disappointing part of it all -- I had been looking forward to the jacuzzi tub!!  She insisted though that I resist every urge to push and that if suddenly the only thing in the world I could possibly do was push we must pull the nurse call cord.

The bath helped a little bit.  I was actually able to breath through a few contractions instead of yell through them.  Then suddenly, the only thing in the world I could possibly do was push.  I screamed to Landon to pull the cord.  Three nurses ran in and Nurse C shouted, "Out!  Get out NOW!"  They supported me back to the bed where we again heard, "I'm so sorry, you still have some cervix left."  She offered me the medicine ball to sit on which had been wonderful for early labor but was terrible for transition.  I got caught trying to sit on it as a contraction started. I was stuck - I couldn't sit and I couldn't stand up either. I was sort of bent-kneed and freaking out, feeling like I was splitting in two.

The contraction finally passed and I sat down with new resolution. "Alright, what are my options for pain management??" I desperately asked.  Nurse C offered, "I can give you fentanyl.  It will take the edge off and wear away in 20 minutes."  "Let's do it!" I didn't even care that I was aiming for unmedicated anymore.  Pitocin-induced contractions are no joke and I was exhausted.

She put the drugs in my IV and warned me that if I felt dizzy to let her know, that it might cause me to take a little nap. "Sure thing," I said. "I'm feeling okay....okay, I'm dizzy."  Suddenly I was very dizzy.  She helped me into the bed and I was incredibly out of it.  Not completely unconscious or asleep, but definitely in a weird trance-like state.  The following is very fuzzy for me.

I was freezing, and my dress was wet from falling in the bathtub at the last second.  Nurse C worked quickly to disconnect the IV, pull the dress off, and reconnect the IV -- and it didn't bother me at all -- proof of how out of it I was.  I remember just lying there, barely able to keep my eyes open, completely oblivious to time, hearing voices very distantly.  The contractions still hurt, but the edge was taken off enough that I could breathe forcefully through them.

At some point, Landon and I were left alone.  I was covered in two blankets to try to calm the shivering.  Suddenly, several monitors started beeping.  No one came in to check on them, so Landon went out and grabbed a nurse (whom we had never seen before) and voiced his concerns.  She checked the monitors and incorrectly assumed that the blood pressure monitor on my finger had fallen off.  Nurse C came in quickly, told the other nurse that she had given me fentanyl, called over to me - "Give me some deep breaths.  I need you to breathe deeply!" - and grabbed an oxygen bag and put it on my face.  I vaguely heard her, but started to take deep breaths.  Landon kept coaching me through them, but I was still in and out of consciousness.

After a while, I started to snap out of the stupor and it dawned on me -- the fentanyl was going to wear off soon.  I couldn't fathom going back to the crazy hard contractions again so I asked for another dose, a request that was refused because it can't be administered within an hour of delivery due to causing breathing problems for the baby.  That was not what I wanted to hear.  I think I may have actually whimpered at that point.  So, very resolutely, I said, "Alright, it's time for the epidural.  We still have time, right??"  Nurse C assured me that yes, there was still time for it, but decided to check my progress again first.

"Hon," she said, "you're at 9.5cm.  These next few contractions are going to open you right up.  You've come this far -- you can do it without the epidural!!"  She was very encouraging, and I'm glad she was.  I had indeed come that far without it and my baby would have most likely been delivered before it even kicked in.  A few wretched contractions later, I said, "I've been resisting the urge the push -- please say it's time!"  She checked and a smile spread across her face.  "You're at 10!  It's time!  Let's try a practice push during your next contraction."

Oh my word.  It felt so good to push.  I felt like I was controlling the contraction instead of the contraction controlling me.  After pushing through the first one, she said, "Alright!  It's time.  I'm going to go call the doctor."  THAT was agony.  I had to resist pushing through two contractions while she was gone.  The doctor was ten minutes away, so a resident came in to assist just in case she was needed.  In fact, quite a few people were coming in and out and getting things set up and ready -- and I couldn't have cared less.  All I knew was that it felt so good to push.  Coming off a contraction did not feel great, but knowing that I was actually in the home stretch was amazing.

The doctor came in (again, not my doctor, but the one who was on call), got herself settled, demanded goggles, and barely interacted with me for awhile. Again, I am so thankful for such an amazing nurse! She was SO encouraging and empowering.  She held one of my legs while Landon held the other and coached me through.  Landon was able to see the whole thing --- sidenote, they didn't have him wear a gown or gloves or anything.  Is that the new norm?

A little bit into it, Dr. R had me hold off on pushing. "You're about to tear," she said. "The thing is, you're going to tear up.  I can cut down so you don't tear up. You have a ridiculously long perineum so it will be fine.  But I don't think you want to tear up."  Well, she was right.  I also didn't want an episiotomy, but given the risk involved, I agreed.  She quickly administered lidocaine, which felt like insulting little pinches where no one should be pinching, made the cut and told me I could push again.

Nurse C had mentioned, "Now, you're going to feel the Ring of Fire.  Push through it.  You'll want to pull back, but don't do it.  Take another breath and get right back there."  However, since the lidocaine was involved, it was like half a ring of fire, not nearly as bad I had expected.

They had offered me a mirror to see it all and I very strongly refused.  No thank you!  I did not need to see all that.  Maybe the next kid.  But from the angle I was at, I saw exactly what I needed to see.  First, a dark, cone-shaped, very goopy head.  Then - the most beautiful little purple face in profile.  I gasped when I saw her.  My heart stood a little still.  "Another push!  Don't stop!"  Her chin, her nose, her shoulders, then all of her!  45 minutes of pushing and Dr. R pulled her right out. She was born at 11:53pm.  I exclaimed, "Landon is going to cut the cord!!!" I was afraid she was just going to do it, not being "my" doctor.  He cut the cord and they put her on my belly.  

"Oh my goodness!  She's a little human!" is what I'm pretty sure I said.  I didn't cry, wasn't flooded with love, but oh I was full of adoration, wonder, awe.  She was whimpering and squirming.  A nurse was rubbing her down with a towel, putting a hat on her head, making her cry.  Landon was by my side, but behind her head.  He was welcoming Little One to the world.  She heard his familiar voice, her eyes flew open, she was turning her head to find the source of his voice.  Her hand was above her head, he touched it with his finger, she clamped on to his finger and held it tightly.  Oh, it all happened so fast!

"Does she have a name?" someone asked.  We looked at each other.  "Sort of..." I said.  "What do you think?" he said.  "I think I like what we talked about," I said.  "Let's do it," he said.  "Alia Grace," I told the nurse. "Alia Grace Tucker."

I'm tearing up just thinking about it.  This little girl was born through great pain, placed in my arms, welcomed to the world, and named -- given a place in the world.  My little girl.  Our little girl.  Our precious, beautiful little girl.

Immediately after giving birth.  Just kidding.  The next day after sleep, hairbrush, and makeup. ;) 
But I DID wear the pearls during delivery.  I had to have some touch of pretty. ;)

The next few minutes weren't incredibly fun as I was told to keep pushing to birth the placenta, then endured the tugging of the stitches, then cried out as they pushed on my uterus to keep it contracting. It was not pleasant.  You'd think that after all that trauma you'd be done.  Nope.

Soon it was time to eat.  From the moment she was born, Alia was playing with tongue and rooting around.  At our first feeding attempt, she latched right on with a perfect latch.  It was a beautiful moment.  She's been an amazing eater/latcher ever since!

The rest is a crazy blur.  Parents came in to meet her and take a million photos, nurses came in to measure her and give her first shots, Nurse C came in to help me to the bathroom (terrifying!), and we moved to post-partum where we had amazing nurses and wonderful care.  All I really knew was I was exhausted and no longer pregnant.  My baby was here.

I have slices of memories that I can't place in the timeline that are special to me.  Landon playing his mom sending me songs that she listened to during her labor with me...a bag of animal crackers on the bed in front of the chair I straddled so I could reward myself after each contraction...Landon rewrapping my IV cover tenderly so I would be less aware of it...the last time I remember feeling Alia move inside...the look on my mom's face when I handed her Alia for the first time...  It's really crazy to think through it all.  The entire experience was completely surreal.

Would I do again without the epidural?'s way too soon to think about another child right now.  Stop that.  I would prefer not to be induced again, that's for sure.

So that's the labor story!  All in all, it went well.  It wasn't exactly the way I had envisioned it, but who can really know until you experience it?  I was grateful that I had absolutely no back labor, that I hadn't torn, that the cut was easily repaired, that although I was willing to give in to the epidural it didn't happen, and that I had an amazing husband to help me through it all.  Bottom line??  I am SO GLAD I am not pregnant anymore. Whew! 

And of course...I am so in love with my daughter, Alia Grace Tucker.

Oct. 7, 2014 - Less than an hour old
Oct. 7, 2014 - 16ish hours old
Oct. 8, 2014 - 1 1/2 days old

1 comment:

  1. Such a sweet story.. I'm so glad you allowed us to be apart of your life.. I am super happy for you guys.. Btw yes it is totally normal for Landon not to wear a gown the only time he would wear a gown is if you get a c-section.. But girl we have to face time.. I am so happy for you guys..