Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bennett's Birth Story: Part 2

SO, it's 7 am on Thanksgiving morning and my contractions are 3 minutes apart.  I calmly called to Brian who was sleeping soundly in our room.  He stumbled into the bathroom, and I told him that I really thought I was in labor, and that he needed to call my parents to come over and watch the big kids. Brian called my mom and told her Happy Birthday (yes, Bennett was born on my mom's birthday!) and Happy Thanksgiving. She told him to cut the chit-chat and tell her if I was in labor.

I also figured I should call my doctor's office just to make sure I should come in. I had to call and leave a message with the answering service.  While I waited for them to call back, I decided to attend to truly important details.  You see, when Camille was born, my water broke at home and I went into immediate hard labor.  I was so stressed that I didn't stop to shower or put on make-up.  I vowed that regardless of the circumstances, I would be wearing make-up when I delivered my 3rd child.  It's important! So, I had Brian bring me my make-up bag in the bathtub.  The contractions were getting increasingly strong and painful, and I did not want to get out of my warm bath!  When Dr. Fogwell called me back (he was the doctor on call on Thanksgiving, thank goodness!), he confirmed that I needed to come in right away.

By 7:30, I was dressed, I had make-up on, and I walked out into the living room and was greeted by my parents, Brian, Brian's friend Noel and Reid.  I was trying to grab a few last-minute things for my hospital bag.  I was walking around normally and then a contraction would hit and I'd end up on all fours on the floor breathing and rocking back and forth.  The pain was getting VERY intense by this point.  I'm pretty sure that my dad and Noel were tremendously disturbed by this.  I kissed Reid good-bye, decided it was best not to wake Camille, and Brian and I got on the road (after he covered my seat in a waterproof outdoor blanket in case my water broke).

As soon as we pulled out of the driveway, I started throwing up.  I threw up a lot while in labor with Camille so it wasn't totally surprising, but it made for a miserable car ride.  Brian and I were SO thankful it was Thanksgiving morning at this point because we live almost 20 miles from the hospital that I was delivering at, and on a typical weekday morning we would have been driving in rush hour traffic.  It could easily have taken more than an hour, but there was no one on the roads, and we made it in just over 20 minutes.  I had to survive the dreaded admissions process while in labor.  I literally could not sit up in the chair in the little cubicle to fill out all the forms so I ended up kneeling on the floor and leaning with my head on the chair while Brian did the majority of the paperwork.  Finally, a little after 8:30, we made it to L&D Room 11.

At this point I met our L&D nurse Mary--she was a great match for me--nice, compassionate, witty and sarcastic.  She was not a perky cheerleader type, thank heavens!  My perfect, Plan A birth plan was to have a non-medicated birth with as little intervention as possible.  To recap, Reid was a c-section because he was breech.  Camille was a VBAC, and I had an epidural around 6 cm then pushed for 3 very painful hours during which I seriously doubted my epidural was functioning as I could move freely and was in lots of pain.  By the time I was I was checked in L&D, I was 5 cm dilated.  Because I had previously had a c-section, I was required to be on continuous electronic fetal monitoring and to at least have IV access started.

What I remember about this period of time is that I was in bed, with the monitors on and having lots of very painful contractions.  I was trying to stay relaxed, and I was breathing through contractions.  I would ask Brian to put pressure on my lower back during contractions only to discover that his touch was causing more intense pain.  I just could not figure out how to manage the intensity of the contractions.  The nurse had a lot of difficulty starting my IV--after an unsuccessful attempt she called in the charge nurse.  It took at least half an hour to get IV access, and all the while the contractions and nausea kept coming.

Honestly, from the time we were in the car on the way to the hospital, all I could think about was the feeling of sweet relief that washed over me when I had my epidural with Camille.  During all the IV drama, all I could think about was--"you don't have to feel this pain--just get the epidural and the pain will all melt away". I hadn't voiced these thoughts at all to anyone so I think they were pretty surprised when they finally got IV access but were about to do a saline lock since the IV didn't need to be used if I wasn't getting an epidural.  I waited until I was not contracting, and calmly said, "I'm not having a contraction right now, I'm not panicking, but I want the epidural.  I've decided I just don't want to feel the pain anymore, and all I can think about is how good the epidural will feel."  At this point, it was sometime after 10 am, and I believe I was close to 8 cm.

I got the epidural, and it was awesome!  A very small part of me regrets getting it because I wonder if I could have done it on my own, but most of me is just thankful for medicine!  Dr. Fogwell came in right after my epidural was placed and checked me (I was 8.5 cm and almost fully effaced), and he broke my water.  As soon as my water broke, Dr. Fogwell told me that there was a slight problem.  Apparently, my amniotic fluid revealed some serious meconium staining (basically, Bennett had already pooped in the womb.  This was dangerous because there was a possibility that he could aspirate the meconium after he was born and started breathing on his own.  This could lead to pneumonia and all sorts of yucky complications.) The doctor told me that it was protocol to have a NICU team present in my L&D room during delivery so that they could immediately evaluate the baby and thoroughly suction him.

The sad news was, this meant that when the baby was born, he would immediately be taken from me (but kept in the room as long as he was okay).  I was a little sad but mainly just concerned about the baby's health. 

The next couple of hours seemed to pass quickly to me because I was feeling good.  Brian watched a little Thanksgiving day football.  We chatted with Allison Duckworth, our birth photographer.  I realized that I had caused everyone to miss Thanksgiving dinner--Brian's mom had been about to put the turkey in the oven when Brian called to say I was in labor.  They decided to postpone the meal and headed to the hospital.  By the time I had my epidural and felt like talking, I realized that Steve and Connie (Brian's parents) and Matt, Cat and Teegan (Brian's brother, sister-in-law, and niece) were all in the waiting room eating the hospital cafeteria version of a turkey dinner.  My parents were back at our house with our kiddos.

By 1:15 pm I was dilated to 10 cm and ready to push.   Brian still had football on, and I remember the TV was directly in my line of site, and all I could see was Kid Rock performing the halftime show.  I told him to turn off the TV because the last thing I wanted was the image of Kid Rock in my mind when I gave birth to our child :-)  By this time, my doctor was having the nurse call the NICU team fairly urgently because although I hadn't started pushing, he indicated that this baby was going to be born SOON.  After the 3 hours of pushing with Camille, I was SO thrilled that I only pushed 3.5 times and out came Bennett James McFarland at 1:28 pm weighing 8 pounds 1 ounce.

Dr. Fogwell suctioned him a lot right away then cut the umbilical cord and handed him to the NICU team. He cried a tiny bit which was such a relief to me! The poor baby was green because he was so covered in poop.  It was in his hair and his eyelashes.  The umbilical cord stump was bright green.  The NICU team suctioned him vigorously, and he started getting a bit pinker and wiggling around.  After about 5 minutes of suctioning and monitoring, the nurses indicated that overall he looked pretty good but that his breathing was much too rapid (normal respiratory rate in a newborn is 40-60 breaths per minute, and Bennett was breathing about 120 times per minute).  He was also using a lot of accessory muscles to breathe.  These factors caused enough concern that the NICU nurses wanted to transfer him up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to to be evaluated.  So, they handed me my bundled up baby for less than a minute and I gazed at his sweet face.  I immediately saw that he looked SO much like his big brother Reid.  I kissed his little button nose, and away he went to the NICU with Brian walking next to his little hospital bed.


Bennett's Birth Story: Part 1

Yes, there are parts to this story. I am a very detail-oriented person, and I'm writing this story for myself and for my family to remember the time surrounding Bennett's birth.  So pardon the lengthy and detailed account.  Our birth story isn't a quick one...  And, yes, it is a birth story so I may refer to things like dilation and placentas...maybe ;-)  

 I had a Shirodkar cerclage placed at 11 weeks of pregnancy to hopefully keep me off of bed rest this time around.  It worked perfectly!  The only issue was, it had to be removed before the baby was born (unless I had a c-section, in which case they could have left it in permanently--weird!).  I was scheduled to have the cerclage removed on November 15 which put me at 37.5 weeks pregnant.  My awesome OB told us that once the cerclage was out, there was a small chance I would immediately go into labor OR I could continue on to full term.  I love a concrete plan ;-)  In any case, Brian and I had been treating the 15th as our deadline for getting everything ready.  I wanted to make sure bags were packed, arrangements were made for the big kids, and, hopefully the nursery was finished.  

On the 15th, Brian and I went to Reid's Thanksgiving parade and feast at his preschool then Brian accompanied me to my doctor's appointment and procedure "just in case". After the procedure was complete the doctor said, I think you may have a baby by this weekend (it was Thursday). I wasn't dilated but I was 50% effaced.  I didn't feel like I was in labor or anything so home we went.

We spent the weekend waiting, being productive and spending quality family time.  With my parent's help, I took the kids to a play date with the Loyds at Chick Fil A on Friday.  Friday night we hit Ikea as a family for a finishing touch for the nursery.  Saturday morning we went to breakfast at Cafe Brazil with the kids and then played at Central Market's playground. Saturday evening we hit Lowe's and Starbucks as a family. Sunday I waddled around and did my church nursery coordinator job, we went to church and we had lunch with Brian's parents at Jason's Deli after church. After lunch, I got some good quality time with Reid. We went to Target to get him a new hat and mittens then to Tom Thumb for some grocery shopping.  That evening we went to our church small group's Thanksgiving celebration.  I was on my feet all day long.  You'd think it would be enough to get labor started!  Sunday night, while I was putting Camille in bed, I started having regular contractions for a couple of hours, and then they stopped.  Basically, as long as I was sitting up, or on my feet, contractions were happening regularly. Then, when I was able to spend time lying down, they would dissipate.

This same pattern of contractions starting and stopping occurred ALL day Monday.  Brian worked from home for part of the day, my parents came over and kept the kids occupied, everyone watched me.  Nothing happened.

Tuesday Brian stayed at home long enough to help me and the kids get ready and in the car, then I took the kids to his parents house and went to my regularly scheduled doctor's appointment for that week.  Driving myself to the doctor's appointment, I started contracting so much that I was sure I was going to end up in "real" labor.  I was calculating how long it would take for Brian to meet me at the hospital and kicking myself for not having brought my hospital bag in the car with me.  I saw the doctor, and he said I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. By that time, contractions had died down again, and the doctor didn't feel I was in active labor since the contractions kept stalling out.  So, home I went to rest and relax.  That night, after Brian asked me what the plan was for dinner, and I almost hit him, we ended up taking the kids to Chick Fil A so they could eat and burn some energy.  That night the contractions and cramping were so intense that I told Brian at one point that I wasn't sure we were going to make it through the night without going to the hospital. Alas, things died down, and we made it through the night.

By Wednesday, I had decided that none of these contractions meant anything, and that this baby would probably arrive after his due date just like his sister.  The issue I was having is that it was nearly impossible to go about daily life.  The contractions I was having weren't exactly painful, but they were very uncomfortable and made it difficult to physically care for a 2 year old and 3 year old. I felt like I was so close to giving birth, but I kept reminding myself that I was only 38 weeks pregnant and that I could still stay pregnant for another 2-3 weeks. The thought terrified me because I was just SO uncomfortable.

 Brian was taking Wednesday off since it was the day before Thanksgiving, and we made plans to meet my parents at a park near our houses to have a picnic, let the kids play and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.  We had tons of fun, and I spent time swinging on the swing set with the kids--trying to convince the baby to fly out or something. We finalized our plans for Thanksgiving dinner since by this point it seemed I'd actually make it to celebrate Turkey Day with our families. 

Wednesday night, we randomly had company.  Brian's best friend from high school, Noel, was passing through town on his way to a BMX competition in Tulsa. We teased him  that I would go into labor that night and he'd have to take care of this kids for us while we went to the hospital.  He got to sleep in the freshly finished nursery/guest bed room.  We had Chipotle take-out for dinner, the kids watched Cars 2, we read books as a family of 4 up in Camille's room and tucked the kids into bed.  By this time, it was about 8:30 pm, I was exhausted and still contracting, so I was the world's worst hostess and excused myself and went and crawled into bed. 

I slept fairly well until about 4:30 or 5:00 am.  At that point, I woke up and realized I was very crampy.  Reid woke up crying, and Brian went up to put him back in bed, and when he came back, I think I told him again that I thought I might be getting closer to real labor.  He went back to sleep :-)  I started realizing that the "cramps" were occurring at regular intervals, but they weren't overly painful.  Between 6:15-6:30 am on Thanksgiving morning, I started to suspect that these were "real" contractions. I got out of bed and took a warm bath and started timing my contractions.  After a few minutes, I realized that my contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasting about a minute.  They were definitely getting stronger and more painful! So 3 1/2 days after semi-regular contractions began, I was pretty sure I was finally in active labor!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

One week (and two days) old.

Precious Bennett,

Today is Saturday, December 1, 2012, and you are one week and two days old.  I wanted to continue on with my tradition of writing my babies a letter on the day they turned one week old, but I missed the mark by a couple of days.  My sweet boy, I'm afraid that this may be the first of many times that your mommy isn't quite as on top of things as she was with your siblings, but make no mistake--we adore you, and you are a treasured member of our family. 

From the moment I happily discovered I was pregnant with you, your daddy and I knew you would be a game-changer.  As crazy as our lives were with your siblings, we were about to add a newborn to the mix.  However, we were excited from day one--we couldn't wait to find out what you would be and who you would be!  We were so curious to see how Reid and Camille would react to finding out you were on the way and to welcoming you into their world. 

I felt like you were going to be a boy from the very beginning.  My pregnancy seemed so similar to when I was pregnant with Reid.  As tiring and difficult as it could be to take care of your siblings while being pregnant, I truly treasured being pregnant with you.  I loved my doctor's appointments and getting to see you grown on ultrasound.  I loved feeling you start to move, and daddy was so excited the first time he felt you as our whole family lounged in bed watching cartoons in the mountains of Colorado in July.  I felt like nighttime was my special time with you--I'd snuggle into bed and feel you kick, punch and roll until I fell asleep.  You were always moving!  If I woke in the night, it wasn't long before I'd feel you wriggling around inside of me.  Reid loved putting his hand on my belly to see if he could feel you kick, and he'd giggle and smile ear-to-ear each time he felt you. 

We have loved preparing your brother and sister for your arrival.  They were so excited to read books about babies and being an older sibling.  We've been reading them for months!  Every time Camille sees an ultrasound picture she would show it to everyone exclaiming, "Baby brother!".  They loved "helping" us get your nursery ready, and Reid was convinced you should sleep there on your first night home.  

When Mommy and Daddy joyfully welcomed you into the world at 1:28 pm on November 22, 2012, you were instantly a part of our family.  We couldn't imagine our lives without you.  Looking at you is just like looking at your big brother when he was a newborn--except your hair is darker.  We know you will have your own sweet and special personality to contribute, and we can't wait to watch it develop.

Watching your brother and sister meet you for the first time was one of the sweetest moments of my life.  They were instantly drawn to you and wanted to examine every detail of your face, hair, feet and hands.  (Your big brother is also quite intrigued by your umbilical cord stump :-) )  Hearing Reid whispering your name while patting your hair made me tear up.  And Camille--she LOVES you with her whole heart and sometimes in an aggressive fashion.  She mostly calls you "Baby" so far, but from the moment she wakes up in the morning she wants to know where "Baby" is and what "Baby" is doing and if "Baby" is okay.  Reid and Camille were watching out the front windows when we brought you home from the hospital.  As soon as the car pulled up, they came bursting out the front door with blue balloons in hand.  Reid was shouting, "Yippee, hurray!" over and over.  They were so excited their baby was home.

Life right now may be a little chaotic, but without a doubt, you are one loved little boy. You are adored by your immediate family, 4 grandparents, 3 great-grandparents, and LOTS of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.   Your daddy and I are so happy that God has entrusted us with such a precious gift, and we can't wait to see the plans He has in store for you.