Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Isabelle's Birth Story

During my first two pregnancies, I really wanted natural births. With Soren, I researched and read and decided to use the Bradley Method. And I did use it. For the first 35 hours of my labor. Then I switched to Pitocin and an epidural. Things were much more pleasant after that. Ten hours later, I had a baby.

With Liam, I spent 30 minutes a day practicing hypnobirthing techniques for months. Then, at 41 weeks gestation, he was transverse and we had to schedule a version and an induction. After a few hours of pitocin-created contractions (which WERE made more pleasant by hypnobirthing techniques), I started crying, and Abe dashed out into the hall to hail the nearest anesthesiologist, who quickly became my favorite human being ever.

With this pregnancy, I pulled out my Hypnobabies kit and half-heartedly flipped through the pages of the manual. "I don't have energy for this anymore," I said, and tossed it under my bed. At 38 weeks gestation, sick to death of morning sickness, I asked my doctor if she would induce me if I went over 40 weeks. "Yes," she agreed, mercifully. 

So on November 2, 2016, Abraham and I left our big kids in the capable hands of their Auntie Ivy, checked into a dark, windowless room at the local hospital, met our nurse, Celynn, and plugged in the Pit at 8:30 AM.

I loved our goal board! Much better than "detox from pain meds" or "urinate independently."

I put on makeup and curled my hair in the hopes that I would look decent in post-birth photos. Didn't happen. But this pre-birth photo ain't bad.

Regular contractions started immediately, but they didn't hurt at all, so Abe and I read (and texted people) for several hours.

When Soren saw this picture, he asked what I was reading when I was in labor with him. The answer is Chaim Potok's The Chosen. My labor with Liam was pretty intense from the beginning, so his labor doesn't have a book. As an aside, I recommend both The Glass Castle and The Chosen.

Celynn kept cranking up the Pitocin, but I wasn't progressing very quickly. Finally around 1 or 2, Dr. Huggins came in and broke my water. Words cannot express to you how much I hate having my water broken. Ugh. But it did the trick. I started to feel my contractions, so Abe turned on some Enya and started rubbing my feet.

At about 3:30, I decided I didn't like having contractions anymore. In came my best friend the anesthesiologist, who administered his sweet liquid sunshine and let me keep the giant needle he did it with, which I kept in my purse and later passed around at Thanksgiving dinner like a proper crazy relative.

The nurse checked to see how dilated I was: a four. I sighed. All the other girls (there were three) who had come in that morning for inductions had already had their babies.

By this time, we had visitors: My mom and dad had just driven from their mission in California. My sister stopped by on her way home from the office. 

The epidural only took on one side at first, so I had halfsies labor for another hour or so, while the anesthesiologist keep giving me more painkillers. Finally I couldn't feel or move anything at all from the waist down.  I loved that I was in full-bore labor but still having a pleasant visit with my family.

The nurse checked my progress again and discovered that I was fully dilated. "Try pushing," she said. I pushed. "Wait," she said. She called Dr. Huggins, who rushed over from her office across the street.

They got everything set up, pulled my heavy-as-logs legs into stirrups, and instructed me to push. I pushed once, then twice, and then, at 5:52 PM, I heard my daughter's first cry.

(My mom and sister, who had settled into chairs for a nice chat, gasped at the sound of a baby crying and rushed over.)

I held my new baby for a few minutes, and then noticed that the doctor was fussing around at my nether regions, grumbling about the placenta. "It's not delivering?" I asked. "No," said Doctor Huggins. I figured it would come out in its own due time and kind of felt like her fussing was unnecessary, but I had a new baby and didn't really care, so I let the infant nurse take her and perform all the usual newborn tortures.

She weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces (I had predicted 7 pounds, 2 ounces; Abe had guessed 7 pounds, 8 ounces) and was 21 inches long.

 While that was going on, Dr. Huggins started prying the placenta out of my uterus chunk by chunk. (My mom says the whole process was VERY bloody.) She kept asking me if I was okay. "Totally fine," I said, exceedingly grateful for my mega epidural. She began requesting various sharp instruments to assist in her procedure. My sweet husband, worried about me and concerned about Isabelle, flitted back and forth between us.

(I learned later that I had a life-threatening condition called placenta accreta, in which the placenta has embedded into the uterine membranes and will not detach after birth. This will cause hemorrhaging if not addressed very quickly. If it's caught before birth via ultrasound, doctors will schedule a C-section and perform a hysterectomy. When we were discussing it afterwards, I learned that my great grandmother Mathis had died after giving birth because her placenta wouldn't detach. My doctor handled the whole situation so calmly I really had no idea how grave it could have been. I told her later that I had been weirdly paranoid about placenta previa the whole pregnancy and thought it was funny I ended up having the opposite problem; she said she thought maybe my intuition knew there was something gnarly going on with my placenta.)

Finally the placenta was out and we were able to enjoy our new baby. My dad, my friend Loriann, and my coworker friend/photographer friend Rebecca joined us. (All of the good candids in this post were taken by Rebecca, in extreme cave-like conditions.) It was such a joy to share our little miracle with people we love so much.

She was a great little eater from the start. I wasn't sure if I would remember all the ins and outs of breastfeeding, but I did! 

It was love at first sight for Abraham.

Lawd have mercy.

Because of my epidural, I had to wear this "Fall Risk" wristband. It made me giggle.

It was so good to see my mama for a few days.

It's True

"All babies look like Winston Churchhill." 


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