The Day We Became Three

Javi’s due date came and went. No Javi. And it was Thanksgiving Day, so of course we saw both sides of the whole family, and I was in a super social mood. (Not.) :-) I had purposely ignored the “due date” because I knew there was little to no chance of him coming that day.

We had hoped for his arrival on two other days – the 17th (because we love 17s) and the 22nd, because on his golden birthday, when he turned 22, the date would be 11.22.33 My brother Jon was rooting for the 28th, because that was his birthday. The Kodankos were rooting for him to be born on December 6th, so he would be part of the December birthday lineup.

So, we had tried walking, pineapple, raspberry leaf tea and … other stuff. Nothing happened, not even one single contraction. I had talked with my doctor about her policies for overdue babies, knowing there was a high likelihood of my going late, as I myself was three weeks late. What can I say, I’ve never been one to be on time. :0) My doctor’s policy was that she doesn’t like to go over 41 weeks, as the risk of stillborn babies goes up drastically after 41 weeks of gestation. So my doctor was already talking about inducing on Wednesday (6 days after my due date.)

Lover and I had discussed this ad nauseum, and had decided that as long as my scans/tests showed that Javi was ok, we’d try to push that induction date out to Friday. My due date came and went, along with the next three days. Monday morning I woke up knowing that I had an ultrasound and a non-stress test scheduled to check the baby’s vitals.
At the ultrasound they hooked me up and started checking baby vitals, movement, and measuring the amount of amniotic fluid left. Javi refused to move, so they had to push and prod quite a bit to get him to move enough for their scans. I think he was kind of like – guys, I’m quite cramped in here and don’t feel like moving! :-)

Dr Grace came in to go over the results with me, and rather than the typical “you’re great! see you next week!” he proceeded to repeat all of the scans that the tech had done. That’s when I first started thinking that we were out of time. Once he finished the scans he looked at me and said “how would you like to have a baby today?!?” I must have just given him a wide eyed scared look, because he then proceeded to explain that the amount of amniotic fluid was quite low, which is a pre-warning sign if you will. It’s the step before the placenta quits doing its job feeding and sustaining the baby. Dr Grace also felt like the baby was around 9 lbs, and waiting any longer would only make it more difficult to get him out and increase my likelihood of needing a C-section.

So he called up labor & delivery and in a very doctor like fashion, told them they would need to fit me in tonight. He was graciously allowing me to go home, pack my bags, pick up Lover and have a leisurely dinner, which I was quite happy about. He gave me my papers, told me to call around 6pm to make sure they were ready for me, and just like that he was gone.

I called Lover right after that, voice shaky and trying not to cry. Nothing was really wrong (other than massive amounts of hormones!) but the reality of Javi’s imminent arrival was starting to hit me. We agreed that I would pick Lover up around 4, so I went to the mall to kill some time. A lady at Marshalls asked me when I was due, and gave me a look of sympathy when I told her -last Thursday. I went home and added the last few things to my hospital bag, and then went to go pick up Lover.

We had dinner – I can’t remember what we got. Then I took the longest shower of my life, where I shaved my legs, scrubbed, cleaned and got as spiffy as I could with a monster belly impeding my movements. I even painted my toenails when I was done. I figured I would be stuck in a hospital bed for several days (they told me it could realistically be Wednesday before I actually delivered, depending on how my body reacted to the induction.)

We checked into the hospital and tried to get settled in. I was nervous and ready to get the show on the road. At the same time I was still in denial, I think. :) They gave me the first drug at midnight on Monday night, and also a shot of morphine so I could sleep.
I woke up around 5am feeling some contractions – which got much stronger and closer together by 7am. When they came to check on me at 7am, my contractions were lasting about a minute and were a minute and a half apart. Because I was being induced, I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed, so I couldn’t do anything to distract myself other than hold Lover’s hand and try to breathe through them.

The NP came in around 9 I think to check my progress, and they actually told the nurse to lower my pitocin drip because the contractions were too intense! But it was just my body doing its thing, so there wasn’t anything they could do about it. When the contractions got really bad, I told myself “pain is Javi leaving the body.”

My goal was always to go as med free as possible,  but the fact that I was being induced severely limits your options when it comes to coping with the pain. I couldn’t go in the tub, couldn’t walk around. Typically, even when induced, I would be able to sit in a rocking chair or at least change positions. But they were having a really hard time keeping track of Javi’s vitals, so they needed me to stay as still as possible. Stinken rotten! So, I asked for an epidural. Our nurses were all awesome, but Olivia was the best. She knelt on the floor for fifteen minutes, holding Javi’s monitors in just the right place on my belly so she could prove the strength and frequency of the contractions I was having and  I could get my epidural early.

The anesthesiologist snuck in to take care of me between planned c-sections, and she and the nurse were great at helping me stay calm and still. A funny memory – they told me to hug a pillow and slump over, rounding my back as much as I could. I did, and she said I was doing great. I remember thinking – finally, my bad posture is coming in handy!
Once the epidural took effect, I had two beautiful, pain free hours. I think we talked and laughed a little, maybe watched TV? I don’t remember but I remember that the pain was so much better. I couldn’t feel anything.

Then they started having trouble tracking Javi again, so they moved me all around until they got a good signal. I had to lay partially on my right side with some pillows supporting me. Not long after that, I started feeling a lot of pain again. I clicked my little button for more drugs, but it didn’t seem to be working. Turns out, the epidural all went to my right side, and left my left side untouched. So my joke is that I had both a natural birth and a medicated one, at the same time!

For several hours the contractions got even more intense as we got closer and closer. The doctor broke my water somewhere in there, and I remember them saying I went from hardly dilated to a 9 ½ within about an hour or so.

So now I’m fully dilated, the contractions are insane and I’m ready to do something besides try to breathe through every contraction. For as long as I live, I’ll never forget that breathing stuff – hee,hee, whooooooo….hee, hee, whoooooo. In the beginning it was annoying and I felt dumb, but in the end it was all I could focus on. I actually imagined a huge neon marquee sign with those words, and I would light up each one in my mind as I needed to say them. I was literally living second to second.

In restrospect, that’s when I was in transition, and I stayed there much longer than I should have because the doctor was busy. They gave me some mumbo jumbo about first time births and letting your body do the work of moving  the baby down, but that was just code for “another mom is more in crisis than you are right now, so just hang in there.”

Apparently I got a little delirious during that time, and told Luke emphatically “I have to get off this train! It’s going to blow up! It’s  going to Columbo and I don’t want to go!” He wisely told me to go ahead and get off the train. Smart man.

He was so wonderful during the whole labor. He held my hand for hours, got me drinks, brushed back my hair, he just loved me. He would encourage me through every contraction, telling me when they peaked, and that the worst was over for that one. I literally could not have done it without him.

Doctor Cherkis was finally done with the c-section, and he literally walked right over to check on me, went out to scrub up, and came back in to deliver. They told me I could finally start pushing.

The anesthesiologist had just upped my epidural because I had been in so much pain. I could still feel every contraction, but it wasn’t excruciating like it had been. Dr Cherkis was really mad, and he argued with the nurse over top of me saying I wouldn’t be able to feel anything, while I was telling them I was having a contraction and asking if I could push. I repeated myself several times until they noticed and listened. It was such a relief to finally be able to push, and direct all that pain somewhere!

I’d like to note here that both Lover and the observing student commented on how sore their abs were from tensing while I pushed. I’m sure it was exhausting to go through that!

I pushed for just over an hour. After a while of pushing, and starting to get the hang of it, the doctor told me that Javi was facing the wrong way. That explained a lot of the pain, (other than the fact that a gigantor baby was trying to come into the world) and the fact that his  heart rate kept rising. Dr Cherkis looked me in the eyes and said “he’s too far up for me to help you turn him. And he can’t stay in there much longer. You need to get him out.” I knew Javi was in danger from his tight lips and narrowed eyes.

So I took a deep breath and pushed until I thought I would pass out. The nurses were saying encouraging things, and the doctor was speaking in short, clipped sentences. I don’t remember everything he said, but suddenly there were about fifteen other people in the room. There was the pediatric team, an orthopedic team, extra people for me, more help for the doctor, etc. Based on the size of the baby’s head, the doctor thought he might need to dislocate a shoulder to get him out.

Lover told me that as Javi’s head came out, Dr Cherkis was already unwrapping the umbilical cord from around his neck. Another push got him out- it felt weird, kind of floppy like a water doll. Within seconds the doctor lifted him up and handed him to the pediatric team. He didn’t move at all, and was completely gray and limp. I only glimpsed him as he was whisked over to the corner.

Four people worked on getting life in him – aspirating his lungs clean, rubbing him, stimulating him. The nurse kept telling me not to worry that he wasn’t crying, because they had a tube down his lungs. The doctor was working on me, but I just watched the backs of the people in the corner, waiting to hear Javi cry. Lover stood next to me, still holding my hand, tears flowing down his cheeks.

Several minutes later, it seemed like forever, I heard a little cry. At that point the intense, focused pace everyone had been following began to relax. They invited Luke over to see the baby, I have a vague memory of him holding Javi’s tiny little fist while they weighed him and measured him. He was 21.5 inches and 8lbs 8 ounces!

After what seemed like an eternity, and it really was about fifteen minutes, they finally brought a little bundle over to me. I was surprised by how heavy he was. He looked incredibly angry, like he had not enjoyed being born at all! I held him and looked in his face, crying and saying, Hello baby! I looked at his little hands and feet, they were iron gray, like an orc’s. They stayed that way until he got a bath later that night.

As the staff cleaned everything up and the doctor finished, he asked, was it a boy or a girl? He had been so focused on keeping both of us alive and well that he didn’t even see what he delivered.

The hospital plays a little lullaby over the speakers when a baby is born, and our music played as staff came over and congratulated us. I was amazed that these people see babies being born every day, and they still crowd into rooms to see the tiny new life. Everyone was so nice and happy for us.

The doctors asked us not to receive visitors that night because Javi had such a difficult birth. So we laid low, taking a shower, figuring out breastfeeding, and sending out our announcement via email and facebook.

I ate an enormous ham sandwich – I was starving! At one point Javi fell asleep and we laid him down in the little tub bed. He made a tiny cry, sounding like a kitten, and we both looked at each other and said “we can’t let him cry on his first day!” and picked him up and snuggled him. Luke spent hours holding him – I was so tired from the delivery and I wanted them to have all the time they could get together to bond.

The next morning, before his rotation ended, Dr Cherkis stopped in to see us. I’ll never forget the feel of Dr Cherkis’ hand pressing mine as he congratulated us on our beautiful baby. He told me “ you did so good.” I thanked him for getting my baby out safely and he said “no, thank you.” which surprised me so much. He was impressed that I got him out on my own.

It’s just over a year later, and Javi is so big and so much fun! He’s walking and babbling, and flashes you huge smiles. He’s the greatest little boy, and we’re so blessed to have him!

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2 Responses to The Day We Became Three

  1. Hannah Wingert says:

    Awwww, what an awesome birth story!  (although  I confess, all birth stories make me feel warm and fuzzy inside because they end with a baby :)  My first was born sunny side up as well and the epidural only worked on one side.  I had an epidural for my second, but it wore off before I gave birth and that whole part was completely natural.  So I’ve kinda had natural births, but kinda not, lol.

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