Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Wesleyann Sabbath

Fair warning, this is a long post.

Wesleyann’s birth story starts out at about noon on Monday, November 15th 2010. I was due on the 9th, so the doctors wanted to do a Bio Physical Profile (BPP). I’d had one with Makaya, and it didn’t end well, so I was stressing out. I sent a text message to our doula, Sabbath. She was the calm collected voice of reason I knew she would be, and she helped me relax and breathe until the appointment later that afternoon.

At the appointment, everything was great with the baby, except for fluid levels. They still gave me a high score, but because of the fluid levels, they suggested delivery as soon as possible. When this was relayed to the doctors in Iowa City, they didn’t seem to share the same sense of urgency. They just wanted me to wait it out and come in for a regular appointment the next day at 2 pm. This was unacceptable. With Makaya, the situation was very similar, there was no fluid, and she was already showing early signs of distress. I didn’t want that to happen to this baby too. After several calls back and forth between myself, Cosette (my midwife in Des Moines) and Sabbath, we all decided to just go.

So at 7 pm on Monday, November 15th, we made “The Calls.” We called Robert’s mom to come watch Makaya, and since she had a two hour drive, we dropped Makaya off at a friend’s house to wait while Robert and I got in the car and set out for Iowa City. We stopped for dinner before leaving town and Sabbath helped us relax, and also pumped us up mentally for what we were about to get ourselves into.

The drive to Iowa City wasn’t as relaxing as I would have planned. Robert had worked that morning, so he had been up since 3:30 that morning. He was falling asleep at the wheel, so I ended up having to drive.

When we got there, thankfully, they were expecting us. I have no idea what Cosette said to the people she talked to, but she certainly worked some magic. We waited for a short while in a family waiting room, I assume they were preparing a room and all the necessary paperwork.

I was anxious and excited. I don’t do well in hospitals, and I was about to start the longest day of my life to date.

Once we were in the room, they checked me so they had a “starting point,” and I was at a ‘fingertip’. This was great news for me because I was already ahead of the game as far as I was concerned. They hooked up the pitocin, I sent out some e-mails, and then we all settled in and waited for the ball to start rolling.

About 3 am, my water broke. The contractions started to pick up, and the roller coaster was moving at full speed.

By mid morning on Tuesday, labor was full on. The contractions were strong and quickly paced, but I was managing. We all thought that the pace I was moving at would give us a baby by dinner. Boy were we wrong.

By Tuesday afternoon, I was working with a nurse named Sun. She was a little Asian lady who was so calm and relaxed. I remember calling her my Zen Garden. She was just what I needed at that point in my labor. She was my anchor, and I appreciated her quiet presence. She would just drift in and out of the room, only bothering us when she really needed to. I remember I was using the birthing ball, and bouncing through contractions while Robert applied pressure to my hips and back. There was a time, two or three contractions maybe, where Sun just squatted in front of me, holding the monitor on my belly so she could get a reading of the baby’s heart on the strip, then once she had what she needed, she made a few notes on the computer, and quietly left the room.

Later, when I was recovering, Robert said when it came time for Sun’s shift to be over, she didn't want to leave. He said that she chased off the next nurse a few times before she reluctantly said good bye to me. This little bit of information makes me smile every time I think about it. She was so sweet, and I really enjoyed her presence and what she brought to my labor.

Labor continued to progress.

My overnight nurse Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning was Emily, and she brought new energy to the space. By this point I had been in labor for 20+ hours, and had been awake for more than 30 hours. I was wearing out, and Emily helped me hang in there. She was amazing, and did everything in her power to keep me from having to get an internal monitor. There was one point where I was on the bed, on hands and knees, and Emily was holding the monitor on my belly as I rocked and moved through several contractions.

Eventually, a wireless telemetry monitor became available, and Sabbath had me get in the tub for a while. It was awesome while the water was nice and hot, but it cooled off really quickly. I remember Sabbath leaving Robert and I alone in the bathroom for a while, and Robert sleeping in a chair while I drifted in that in-between state, not quite asleep not really awake, between contractions. I asked him at one point if I had bad breath. It had been forever since I had last brushed my teeth, and I had been breathing through the contractions (through my mouth) for a really long time. He told me no, but I think he was lying to spare my feelings.

When I couldn’t stand the water any longer, I got out and crawled back into bed.
I was so tired. I just wanted to sleep.

Emily’s shift was ending, but she was so confident that I was going to have a baby soon that she moved the baby warmer into the room, and she had found a little knitted hat for the baby to wear. We were sure that the baby was going to be a boy (no ultrasound, just a gut feeling from mom), so she found a cute little brown and blue hat for him.

It was around this time that I finally gave in and asked for something to take the edge off the contractions so I could rest a bit. They gave me an injection of something, but Robert kept waking me up with his snoring.

I may have thrown a pillow at him. 

It may have also been around this time that I told him to "please stop chewing his fucking gum."

It eventually became clear that an internal monitor was necessary, and after a second injection of pain meds, they placed the monitor.

By now, the morning shift change had happened, and I now had Rachel for my nurse. I remember when she came in for the first time, I looked over at her and said, "I've been doing this for a long time, and I've had a lot of nurses. How about if you're my last nurse, ok?"

By this time I had been in labor for more than 30 hours, and on pitocin the entire time as well. Aside from the few minutes where I dozed between contractions, I hadn't slept for more than 48 hours. I was beyond tired, and I was seriously worn out.

When the three new doctors walked into my room I knew it wasn't going to be good news. I didn't want to hear it, and I felt a deep sense of failure before they even said anything. I will forever remember them as a black cloud that rolled into my room, shooting lightning bolts from their eyes, and disdain from their mouths.

After they left, I broke down. I had failed again. 

Then a spur caught my brain and whispered in my ear, “You don’t have to accept this. Ask for another doctor. You have rights.”

And that’s just what we did, we got a second opinion.

Robert and I asked for a second opinion, and requested a doctor we had worked with earlier on Tuesday, Dr. Fairbanks.

She came up, and gave us her opinion. But then she asked us for ours as well. She talked to us, she listened to us, and she helped us make the best decision possible for everyone, not just the baby. In short, she respected us, and she was awesome and amazing all at one time.
Once the decision had been made, and plans were underway for the C-section, the atmosphere changed.

There was new energy in the room. There were people coming and going, everyone was busy with a task.

And I finally got to brush my teeth.

The staff at the hospital and our doctor in particular worked very hard to respect every request, every issue I had going into the surgery. They called in the head of anesthesiology because the anesthesiologist on call was a man, and I had asked specifically for no men to be present other than my husband.

While I was busy signing forms and getting into the SIHG (standard issue hospital gown), Rachel was busy doing the most important job of the day. She was finding a nurse just for the baby so she wouldn't be taken immediately to the nursery. 

This was huge. With Makaya, because of the circumstances surrounding her birth, it was hours before I got to see her. I didn’t want that to happen again.

I don't think I can ever thank her enough for that gift.

When everything was set, and everyone was in scrubs, we walked to the operating room. It was surreal. I was scared and nervous and excited all at once.

Once we were in there, they realized that my IV was bad, and that’s why it had been hurting me for so long (it wasn’t placed correctly, and for the past two days, it had been killing me. I started calling the hand it was in the “gorilla hand” because I couldn’t bend my hand back, I had to support my weight on my knuckles like a freaking silver backed gorilla.) They replaced my IV, and got the spinal going. I was glad they suggested a spinal instead of an epidural, I really didn’t like the idea of a needle sitting in my spine for a prolonged period of time. *shudder*

At 11:38 they started surgery. Because of the previous C-section, there was a lot of scar tissue to get through, and it was taking a long time.

One of the black cloud doctors suggested that because I had been in labor for so long, and hadn’t progressed any farther was because my uterus was rupturing. I disagreed. Loudly.

When Dr. Fairbanks finally got to my uterus, she announced that I was not in fact rupturing, confirming what I had already asserted earlier, despite the black cloud doctors prediction, and my previous incision was still perfectly intact. 

It took a long time to get through all the layers of scaring, and it was quiet in the room, just murmurs between the doctors and the nurses.

Finally at 11:58 am, Dr. Fairbanks announced, "I see baby!"

There was suddenly so much commotion. Everyone talking and it was so loud I yelled, "SHHHHHH! I can't hear my baby! I missed hearing my daughter; I don't want to miss this one!"

And everyone stopped talking all at once, and then I heard her.

I heard my baby's first cries.

They were beautiful, and I can still hear them when I close my eyes and think about that moment.

It took sooo long for them to bring her to me. It felt like it took longer to bring her to me than it took to cut through to her. In reality it was really about 7 minutes and then I got to see her. 

I got to touch her and hold her and smell her and kiss her, and I haven't stopped since.

I told Robert I wanted to name her Wesleyann to keep his family name, and Sabbath in honor of the person who was so instrumental in helping us have a better birth this time.
He agreed.

That's how our family grew one year ago today.

Happy Birthday Wesleyann Sabbath. I love you more than you will ever know.

...and then I got to see her. 
I got to touch her and hold her and smell her and kiss her, and I haven't stopped since.

Happy Birthday Wesleyann Sabbath.
I love you more than you will ever know.

In honor of what I was doing ALLL day last year, I used my "Birth" mug for my coffee on the 16th.

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