Before you were conceived, I wanted you.
Before you were born, I loved you.
Before you were here for an hour, I would have died for you.
This is the miracle of life.
- author unknown
I can't believe it has been 4 weeks since our precious baby boy arrived! I need to write his "birth story" before I forget things, especially considering some of it is already fuzzy to begin with. But first, some birth stats:
Ryan William Lauder
December 31, 2010
6 lbs. 6 oz.
This birth story is long. It's ridiculously long because I tried to include every detail I could remember, but not because I think anyone else is that interested in reading it. I write this for myself, for my husband, and for Ryan, because I want us to remember every detail and I want Ryan to be able to read this when he is older. As memorable an experience as it was, how often do we forget the details we thought we'd never forgot, even in the most defining events of our lives? I don't want to forget.
We were told to get to the hospital at 4pm, no earlier, on Thursday the 30th for the induction. We got there a few minutes after. I was a nervous wreck inside and had been since the night before; it felt like I was on a runaway train that I wanted to get off of. Before then, I had only been excited that he was coming so soon, but as my nerves got the better of me I wanted the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy back, I wanted a 40 week baby and I felt jipped. I knew it was only because I was so scared and I just tried to tell myself that if I didn't go through it now, I'd be going through it 3 weeks later. I wanted so badly to meet him but I had read too much about early inductions and had convinced myself it would be long and painful and ultimately end up in a c-section. Well, it was long and painful...but at least I was wrong about the c!
It took awhile to get checked in, hooked up to the monitors, have the IV put in and get to see the doctor. At around 7pm they started something called Cervadil which starts to soften your cervix and get it ready for labor, since at 37 weeks my body had not begun the process on its own. The Cervadil is some type of gel (I think) that they insert and it has a string for them to remove it. I had heard it was painful to have put in, so I was at least happy when I found out that the Dr. had put it in during what I thought was just an internal. The internals are extremely painful for me because apparently my cervix is very posterior, so at least they killed two birds with one stone...but enough about my cervix. They told me the Cervadil had to sit for 12 hours before we started anything else which is why I had already been pretty sure he wouldn't make his debut until the next day. They also said the Cervadil might bring on some contractions and put me into labor on its own, but I think they said it wasn't likely. Most likely we would start Pitocin around 7am the next morning; basically what they said is that they just needed to try and flip a switch in my head to make my body go into labor and that you never know when the switch will flip and what it will take.
They gave me an Ambien to sleep so I'd be rested for the next day, but I literally did not sleep one wink that night. The problem was that I had to have the fetal heart monitor and contraction monitor strapped to my stomach all night, and that the Cervadil started causing cramping very quickly after it was put in. They started out like menstrual cramps and increased in pain and discomfort all night, and because of this I had to constantly keep switching positions to get comfortable. However, every time I changed positions, the fetal monitor would lose his heartbeat and a nurse would have to come in and adjust it. This started to happen at least every 5-10 minutes and the nurses kept telling me I had to stay put, I could tell they were getting irritated but I could not stay in one position, it was too painful. I would lay in pain for as long as possible on one side, switch sides, have the monitor adjusted, and then switch sides again, and this went on all night long, so I didn't fall asleep even once.
At around 5am I got up and went to the bathroom and as I was getting back into bed I felt a small gush of water and told Todd to get the nurse because I was pretty sure my water had broken. The nurse came in and checked but said she didn't think it had and that it could have been urine, but I knew it wasn't. I don't think it was until around 8am when my Dr. came in for another internal that she confirmed my water had definitely broken. Let's just say it was very obvious during the internal and I could not believe the sheer amount of water that left me during that 30 second period! I thought they would have to get me a new bed when she was done. I think it was at this point that she told me I was dilated "almost 3" centimeters and then said "there, I just made you 3."
Sometime during the early morning hours after the water broke, I can't remember when, the contractions got extremely painful and I felt like I might throw up after each one. I can't remember now how far apart they were, but I started telling Todd I needed something for the pain. I said I wanted the epidural because they were that bad, and I started to somewhat panic because I knew it was too early for an epidural and I didn't know if they'd give me anything else because it was still early in the morning, the Dr. hadn't even been in, and these were just contractions from the Cervadil that they didn't even know would bring on contractions in the first place. We hadn't even started Pitocin yet so I assumed they would tell me I was out of luck and I didn't know how long I could handle that pain. My mom had been there for awhile the night before and I knew she was probably on her way back but I had Todd call her and see how far away she was because I had officially reached the "I just want my mom" level of pain. I don't know if everyone has that level, but it's a very specific level at the top of my pain pyramid. The nurse said she would talk to the Dr. about pain relief and when she told me I could have the epidural I think I may have cried happy tears. My mom got there right as they were going to give it to me and they had her and Todd wait outside. I always thought it was funny how on the baby shows on TV, the moms act like the anesthesiologist is their savior when he comes in, but that is exactly how I felt when I saw him. I wanted to hug him. I had not been too nervous about getting an epidural to begin with but had occasionally imagined it would cause a sudden pain that would cause me to move involuntarily and leave me paralyzed, but that thought had long since gone out the window and I couldn't wait for that needle to go into my spine. It really didn't hurt except for some brief pain down my right side, nothing bad at all. I think I thanked the anesthesiologist no less than 83 times before he left the room.
I felt great after the epidural. For a little while I could still feel the contractions on my right side, not as bad as before but painful, and then the nurse told me to roll to my right side to help spread out the meds, and it worked. Then I really felt great. My mom and Todd would tell me I was having a really strong contraction and I would sit there in ignorant bliss and disbelief that I could not feel a thing. I remember rambling on about how amazing epidurals were, how I couldn't imagine how anyone could go through labor without one, and what a shame it would be if I didn't get it because surely I'd have been dead by now. I was very in love with my epidural, as you can tell. Don't get me wrong, I have huge admiration for anyone who can go through labor without it, I just literally can't imagine how it's possible (and I hadn't even felt the strongest of the contractions). If you can labor through that pain for hours and hours without an epidural, you can do anything and you are my hero.
The timing of things got a little fuzzy here, probably because I was so tired, but I know that at around 9:30 they started the Pitocin and I think I fell asleep for awhile. I don't remember at what time or why they put in an internal monitor, but it's something that literally pierces the skin of the baby's head and stays in to monitor the heart rate. Shortly after that at one point I started to wake up realizing...I was in pain. Wait...I had had an epidural...how could I possibly be in pain?? I was feeling contractions again and this time they were very different from the first round, they were very centered and low and they quickly got worse and worse until I felt like I had never gotten an epidural at all. I remember saying over and over "this isn't fair...I got an epidural!" The anesthesiologist came in and I guess administered more of the epidural and then showed us a button we could press to release more of it every 10 minutes if needed. It didn't do a damn thing and I was convinced it was a placebo button with nothing in it and that they were trying to trick my brain into thinking I wasn't in pain after every time I pushed it. The contractions had reached unbearable again and were so much worse than the first round I had had from the Cervadil. I just laid on my side and whimpered and moaned through each one. Finally the anesthesiologist gave me a double dose that he injected right into the thing in my spine, instead of through the IV, and finally they stopped again. He said that sometimes there is an area, down low and centered like this, that the epidural just isn't able to reach well.
Things are fuzzy here, too, but at some point in the afternoon I remember feeling pressure like I had to go to the bathroom and the Dr. and my mom telling me that I didn't have to, that it was the baby's head bearing down. I told them I needed to go and begged them to let me, I was positive it wasn't the baby and that I had to go to the bathroom because it felt exactly like that. They just kept telling me that it really was the baby's head bearing down and that I absolutely could not go (I hardly had any feeling in my legs anyway, so I don't know how I thought I was going to get up and go to the bathroom). Since I was feeling that way, the Dr. checked me again and I was at 6cm dilated. Everyone seemed really excited about that but all I wanted to do, still, was go to the bathroom and I didn't want to wait 4 more centimeters to get some relief from that feeling. I asked if I could push because I felt like I needed to and of course the answer was no since I wasn't fully dilated. My mom said that when it was time to push the feelings of "needing" to push would be extremely close together and unstoppable. I felt like they already were, but not too much longer later I understood what she meant and the next thing I knew I was basically yelling at everyone that I HAD to push whether they liked it or not. The Dr. checked me again and said I was fully dilated and ready to go...thank God, because I knew there was no stopping it at that point and if they had told me I had to wait longer I can't say we all would have made it out of there alive.
Up until that day my plan was that only Todd would be in the room when eviction time came, but after having my mom there all day helping me get through the labor, it didn't feel right to have her wait outside and I wanted her to stay. I also imagined, and I think Todd did, too, that he would stay up north most of the time and just peak a few times as he was coming out, but when it came time, the doctor had him and my mom each hold a leg and they both 100% witnessed their son and grandson's grand entrance into the world! I was surprised by how few people were in the room. I imagined a hustle and bustle of doctors and nurses but surprisingly, only my doctor and a nurse, and at some points a resident who was only there to watch, were in there. Once the pushing got under way, my doctor actually left for most of it and it was just the nurse in charge. I remember asking at one point if there were enough people for when he came, and if anyone would be there to make note of his actual birth time (hey, that was important to me!).
My mom had told me that pushing is the easy part of labor, and I didn't believe her because...well, that just didn't seem to make sense. But, she was right. Pushing wasn't painful at all (of course, I did have the epidural), it was just tiring. I was told to push 3 times, for 10 seconds each time, during each contraction. After the first few contractions they let me be in control and I would tell them when I had to push because I would get the overwhelming feeling of needing to every time I had a contraction. I pushed for about an hour and twenty minutes which they said was pretty short for a first baby. What was frustrating about it was that the whole time I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere because I couldn't feel the baby moving down. Until his head was actually coming out, I couldn't feel any progress so it felt like he wasn't moving. A few times they told me he had lots of hair and I asked what color it was, they said "dark because it's wet." Oh..well, ok then! Finally I could feel it when he started to crown and when his head and shoulders came out was the only time it hurt, but it was fast and bearable, I only yelled a little! I remember asking "after his head is out, are you just gonna pull the rest of him out?" I don't know why, I think it was because that's what it looked like they do on all those baby shows I watch, but they said I'd have to push his shoulders out, and after I did they told me to relax and then they pulled the rest of him out.
I think what I felt the moment they held him up for me to see was disbelief. I couldn't believe he was really there! And so tiny! I kept saying "he's so little!" The doctor held him up for me to see and he looked perfectly ok but he wasn't crying right away so I kept asking why he wasn't crying and she just kept saying "he's fine." It was probably only 20 seconds until he cried. After that I was holding out my hands saying "can I have him? can I hold him??" and they asked if I wanted them to lay him on my chest. Um...yes!! I still remember what it felt like touching him for the first time and holding onto him while he looked at me and screamed his little head off. All I could think was that he was so adorable and tiny and that I couldn't believe I was finally getting to see him.
As soon as I had him my mom said "do I get to know his name now?" A couple minutes after he was born, I felt like I was having another contraction and had to push. I had no idea why and somewhat panicked for a second. Yeah, forgot about that whole placenta thing. My mom and Todd both started calling people right away and they took Ryan over to the warmer. I kept telling Todd to go be with him because he was crying and sometimes no one was at the warmer with him. The Dr. told me she had quite a bit of stitching to do because I had a bad second degree tear inside (and maybe outside? I don't even know, wasn't really paying attention). She also said she was going to do something to try and prevent a hematoma which is an internal bleed, because the way the tear was made her think I might develop one. I just laid there content while she did it, watching my baby, listening to the phone calls, making everyone take pictures, soaking it in. They handed him back to me for a few minutes, all bundled up and mostly cleaned off - I just could not get over how adorable he was. He was so content and looking at us with the most adorable eyes. I think they gave him to Todd to hold for awhile after that. I was so excited for the Dr. to finish up so we could go to the postpartum room, I could call people on my own and send pictures, and we could have visitors. I knew my brother, Kristin, Todd's mom and Marty were all on their way and I couldn't wait to show him off.
If anything happened between that and the hell that broke loose after that, I don't remember it. The next thing I remember was them having me slide over from the delivery bed onto a stretcher so I could be brought to my post-partum room. This was probably around 6pm. I could barely get myself onto the stretcher because I was in so much pain, and once I got on it everything started getting worse. I honestly can't even remember exactly what the pain felt like now, but it increased to the point where it was excruciating, unbearable, and worse than all of the labor and delivery pain combined. I had no idea why I had this pain all of a sudden and what was happening, and I don't really remember the order of everything. I remember repeatedly yelling that I needed the Dr. in there now and couldn't wait, telling Todd to leave and get the Dr., and a blur of the Dr. and nurses coming back and forth and trying to figure out what was going on. I am really not the type of person to say "I need the Dr. NOW!" but I did...multiple times. At one point, I begged her to knock me out because I couldn't take the pain. One of the nurses kept saying to the Dr. "how about if I just give her another Percocet?" and I think if I could have moved I would have punched her in the face. Really.
Finally the Dr. determined that I had gotten the hematoma bleed after all, even though she had tried to prevent it. I didn't really understand because when she talked about it after delivery I had thought she said I already had one and she was fixing it, but I didn't really care. She mostly explained things to Todd and my mom because all I could do was lay there and cry, moan, yell...you get the picture. As soon as she determined that's what it was, knowing how painful they are, I got the good stuff in the IV and was asleep within minutes. For the next 4-5 hours I was either in a heavy sleep or in a weird semi-conscious state where I could hear everyone but still felt like I was asleep and couldn't move. The heaviness of the sleep combined with the relief of such horrible pain felt incredible. I could hear the Dr. saying something to Todd and my mom about possibly bringing me to the OR for surgery and maybe needing a blood transfusion, and I didn't care in the least. They could have done anything they wanted to me at that point.
When I woke up I felt like the eye of the side I was sleeping on was almost swelled shut. Apparently I had swelled up like a balloon. Still didn't care. I was still in some pain and it was hard to move, but compared to before, it was nothing. They said they were going to keep taking blood counts to see if it the bleed was increasing or not and then they would do surgery if they had to, but they wanted to try and get us to the postpartum room (I had still been on the transport stretcher in the L&D room this whole time) and bring the baby to us so we could all be together before the ball dropped to ring in 2011. I wanted my baby and I didn't really care about the new year at that point, but that was what everyone else was determined to do. I was really sad that I hadn't gotten to call anyone or send pictures to announce his arrival myself. As far as I knew, my best friends didn't even know he was born, but Todd told me he told them at some point when it was obvious I wasn't going to be able to myself. When we were finally brought to the room, I told Todd we could turn the TV on and try to get a picture of him holding Ryan by it as the ball dropped. Turned out it was already 12:03am. Oh well. They brought Ryan in and I got to marvel all over again at how gorgeous he was and feed him some bottle (our adventures in breastfeeding will be a post all its own) and we both just spent time holding him and taking everything in. We were all completely exhausted. After some time, we called the nurse to bring him back to the nursery. As much as I didn't want to, I could still barely move or sit up, and getting out of bed would have been impossible, so I knew there was truly no way I could take care of him throughout the night and he was so new that I felt more comfortable knowing that he was in the nursery with trained eyes on him all night while we slept.
We ended up being in the hospital for 5 days. Normally at this hospital they will release you 48 hours after the baby is born. I had to stay an extra day because they were still doing bloodwork around the clock to determine if the hematoma was increasing and eventually they determined it was ok. We thought we would be going home on Monday, but Monday morning the hospital pediatrician came in and told us Ryan was jaundiced and she had ordered light treatment for him and he wouldn't be able to go home until the next day at the earliest. His levels were really high, so in hindsight I wonder why they didn't notice it sooner, unless they did and were just waiting to see if it got bad enough to need the lights. I was automatically extremely upset. Not because he was jaundiced or needed the lights, I knew how common that was and that he'd be OK, but because I knew they would still discharge me and I'd have to go home without him. I couldn't even think about it without bawling.
When my Dr. came in to check on me and see how the pain was, etc. I told her I wanted to stay because the baby had to stay and she said she couldn't really justify keeping me, which is what I was afraid she would say. I know she could tell I was getting upset, and when I said the pain was still bad (it was), she used that to justify keeping me until the next day. I know she didn't have to and only did it because she knew how badly I didn't want to leave without the baby. But, she told me, if he couldn't go home the next day, she wouldn't be able to keep me again. I was fine with that because I thought for sure we'd all be going home the next day.
It was rough not having Ryan in the room with us at all, after having him with us for 2 days. We were allowed to go to the nursery to visit him (or so we thought) but for the most part only Todd went because I knew I would get upset seeing him in there and not being able to hold him or take him back. I felt guilty not going to see him but I couldn't help it. After the first day, they ended up telling us that actually, we weren't even allowed in the nursery to see him, we could only look through the window. Up until that point, Todd had been going in to see him and was able to touch him, and the nurses hadn't stopped him because they felt bad, but then they decided to tell us the real rules. The reason parents weren't allowed in there was because there were other babies in there and other parents might not like other people in there. Yeah, so what? We were pretty ticked off. Yeah, there's other babies in there, but guess what...our baby is the only one under the bili lights, our baby is the ONLY one in there who has to stay in there and is not allowed to be in his parents room and be held by them. And as a parent, I would never even think to get upset if I saw other parents in the nursery being with their baby, especially a baby they weren't able to be with any other way. We made it known how upset we were and they ended up taking the few other babies out of the nursery for a few minutes so that we could go in and see him. I felt like we were being looked at as "those" parents, demanding and unreasonable, but I truly didn't think it was fair. We went in for about 15 minutes, I was a snotty, crying mess, but they let me feed him and I felt a little better seeing his eyes (on the bili bed they're covered by a mask) and seeing that he was still tiny. I think part of me had been afraid that by the time I got him back, he was going to be a big, grown up baby and not know who I was. Crazy thoughts go through your head when you're hormonal and drugged up. I still say pregnancy hormones don't hold a candle to postpartum hormones.
The next morning the pediatrician came in and told us that his levels had gone down significantly but not enough for her to discharge him. I think this is when I officially lost my mind. I knew I was getting discharged that day and even thought they told me we could stay at the hospital until later that night, even though I knew Ryan was ok, even though we could come back and get him the next morning, even though in my mind I knew this was not as awful as my reaction made it seem, I still couldn't handle it. The thought of leaving the hospital even for a minute without him reduced me to an inconsolable mess. Earlier that morning at 6am they had taken my blood pressure and it had been high, which was odd because it had been pretty good the previous couple days. Because of this they wanted to continue checking it throughout the day. Well, obviously, after they told me Ryan had to stay, it was high for the remainder of the day because I was upset. I wanted it to be high because I thought they may let me stay again if it was (after all, they had kept me 5 days the previous week for high blood pressure, which never made it to the blog). However, I wanted to kill the tech that was on that day who kept coming in to check the blood pressure. She continually came in when I was upset and/or crying and would sigh and be visibly irritated that I was causing high readings, and telling me to relax as if it were just that easy. This continued for hours and just ticked me off, so the readings were all high. When my Dr. came in she said that she had already told the nurse and tech not to take the blood pressure while I was upset (what's the point?) and that if they tried to do it again, to tell them that she said not to. I did, and they didn't listen, but whatever. It was a horrible 12 hours or so - I was overtired, overwhelmed and not able to deal with even a little stress without breaking down - but in the end, the blood pressure did get them to keep me in the hospital until the next day and Ryan actually ended up being cleared for discharge before I was, but the next night we got to go home. I hadn't pictured going home at night and didn't like that it was already going to be 11pm when we got home, but at the end of the day I knew that was insignificant. I got to go home with my baby.
Recovering, in the hospital and at home, was painful, messy, sometimes scary. I really had no idea just what having a baby does to your body, especially right after birth, although I don't know how much of the pain and physical "trauma" was due to the birth and what was due to the hematoma. It took quite awhile for me to not be in at least somewhat bad pain, but now it's only every once in awhile. I can't really stay on my feet for an extended period of time, even brief shopping trips are hard, without the pain starting up, but I'm not out and about much anyway. The pain is just a reminder of everything we went through and what we have to show for it, and I am amazed every time I think about the fact that I actually did it - I actually gave birth - and the full circle we've come not only since the day the test turned pink, but since the day we first ached to have him in our lives, before he even existed.
So that is Ryan's birth story. Believe it or not, I'd even say "in a nutshell." Although anyone reading this might not think so, the experience was so much more than I could even put in here which may be why it took me 2 weeks to write this. My next few entries, when I'm able to, will most likely be on breastfeeding and on what life with a newborn has been like.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading!