Monday, February 1, 2010

The Story of Emily, Chapter 8: A Miracle

The Story of Emily

Chapter 8: A Miracle

The last few weeks of the pregnancy were mostly a blur with a few memorable moments. The majority of women start feeling tired of a pregnancy the last month or so. I know few that are/were happy to be pregnant past 37 or 38 weeks. For me, the joy of being pregnant ceased to exist at 22 weeks when we first heard the news something was wrong with Emily. From that point on everything was centered on worry. As her due date came closer and closer, the worry and anxiety increased. Even something as wondrous as feeling the baby move was shadowed by concern. I knew as long as she was moving she was okay. Emily was a ‘roller’. She would roll from one side to the other. It was quite humorous to watch her from the outside.

I never hinted that I wanted a baby shower. One part of that was the fact that I hate to ask for anything. The other part was that I didn’t really feel up to a celebration. With all of my family living hundreds of miles away, I honestly didn’t think I would get one anyway. I was surprised to learn that Mark’s very sweet Aunt R planned a baby shower for us. Even more surprising was how it made me happy. I went to Aunt R’s house expecting to see only the family of Mark’s that I knew. He has a huge family, but I had only had the opportunity to meet a few. However, her house was packed! It uplifted my spirit to see how many women had gathered. I had no idea that so many people cared about us. I am so grateful for all of them.

I got a similar surprise the Monday that marked the start of my 38th week. I was told by some co-workers that they had planned a baby shower for me to take place on Thursday during the kids’ naptime/our lunch time. On the day of the baby shower I had a regular doctor appointment in the morning. This time the doctor checked my cervix. I was amazed to learn I was dilated 3 cm. Then the doctor stunned us by saying he would like to induce me on Monday after another NST (non-stress test). We had reached the point in the pregnancy when it would be better for Emily to be out, rather than in. It was a scary realization, but I was anxious to have her out too. I wanted to see for myself if she was going to be okay.

After the appointment I decided to go on into work. My baby shower would be starting soon and I wanted to tell everyone about the induction. It was a little odd to be the center of attention in front of all these people who just a few months ago were strangers. Now they were all friends who were excited I was having a baby. There were so many gifts! I can still recall who gave certain ones and I can still see their faces. Thank you, TSCS!

At the end of the shower, I let my supervisor know that I wouldn’t be back the next day. She told me if I wanted to go ahead and go home then, I could. I needed a little time to get a few things ready (like a hospital bag) so I took her up on the offer. To be honest, Mark and I had not done much to get ready for Emily. A few items I had picked up were a bassinet and a special car seat called a car bed. The car bed was specially designed for preemie babies and for babies with developmental delays. We didn’t even buy a crib or decorate a nursery. I knew there would be plenty of time for that if we got to bring her home.

I spent my time off mostly piddling around. I put my feet up and enjoyed watching movies on our VCR. I did a little web surfing and some reading. On Sunday evening, I felt a need to clean our bathroom tub. I have never been one for cleaning if I don’t have to, so this should have been a big, red, neon sign something was up. When I got done with the tub, I noticed my back was a little achy (could have been all the bending over the tub). I also noticed my belly would tighten and get hard (surely these were Braxton Hicks contractions). I went about my business and added a few more things to my hospital bag for the next morning.

A little later, I got back on the internet and cruised around my favorite sites. While I was sitting there I noticed my “Braxton Hicks” were coming every 7-9 minutes. I got a little niggle in my mind and called Mark upstairs to tell him. He thought I might be going into labor so I called my mom. It was 11:30PM, but my parents are an hour earlier and I knew they would still be awake. I told them that I thought I was having real contractions now and that when they got closer together, we would go to the hospital. Even though we lived 45 minutes away, the information was to come in when contractions were 4-5 minutes apart or your water had broken.

At 12:30 my contractions were 5 minutes apart and they were starting to be a little uncomfortable. We put the bags in the car and we were on our way. As we are riding into the city I talked Mark into stopping at Wal-Mart. I had a good reason! At the time, I was the only one with a checking account and we didn’t have any cash on hand. When Mark went home after the birth, he wouldn’t have any way to buy Pepsi! He loved to drink Pepsi and I knew we were out. I had planned on getting some before my NST appointment, but now we were headed straight for the hospital. All I knew was getting a case of Pepsi was vitally important. I also had a feeling that once we were at the hospital, they would want me to go walking. If that was going to happen, I would much rather walk in a store. We got to Wal-Mart and true to my word, I walked. Soon, I had to have Mark get me a cart. The contractions were picking up in speed and intensity. I was having to stop and breathe through them and they were coming about every 3 minutes. It was time to get our stuff checked out and make the short drive to the hospital.

We went up to the fourth floor and were taken to triage a little after 2 AM. A nurse came in and checked my cervix. Disappointingly, I was still only 3cm. The hospital doesn’t admit a woman until she is 5cm or her water has broken. She suggested that I go walking for 2 hours. I’m sure I glared at her. Mark and I took her advice and went to the hall to walk at exactly 2:30. I absolutely hated this part. We would walk down one way with me stopping every few feet to have a very intense and painful contraction. Mark would try to comfort me during them by hugging me. I couldn’t stand it. I was needing to go into myself to deal with the pain and I needed all of my concentration. I let him know this and he started hugging me after the contractions which was much better and completely welcome. Then there were the bathroom trips. I kept feeling like I needed to ‘go’, but once I was inside the stall nothing would happen except I would get really hot. I would splash my face with cold water, leave and walk the corridor again. This continued until 4:25. We stopped by the nurses’ station and I asked them if I could please stop now. It had been almost the whole 2 hours and I just wanted to sit down. The one that answered me said in a snotty tone, “If you really think you can’t go anymore…” I’m sure I glared at her too.

We got back to the triage room where I was checked again. The walking must have helped because I was now dilated to 5cm. I could stay! When I heard the report, I half-jokingly asked if I could have my epidural now. Before I had gone into labor, I had thought I might be able to do it without drugs. But now I had been in labor for 5 hours and I was only dilated 5cm. Conventional wisdom says that you dilate approximately one centimeter every hour. If I was going to have 5 more hours of this, I was going to need something. The nurse told us that as soon as I was set up in a room, they would call for the anesthesiologist.

We got settled into the room a little after 5 AM. I was pleased to see that Top Gun was on the television. It was one of my favorite movies and I took it as a good sign. Now that I didn’t have to walk anymore I was in a really good mood, even during contractions. In fact, I was practically giddy. A short time later, the anesthesiologist came in to give me an epidural. I asked him where he went to school (I do that a lot). When he said he did his undergrad at UT, I took it as another good sign. I asked him if it would be best if I got into an “Indian style” position on the bed. He said that would be great. I bounced around on the bed, crossed my legs and leaned forward to grip my nurse’s hand. He and Rebecca (my nurse) discussed how they wished they could bottle whatever I had to give other patients.

My epidural went in and I was given a Jeopardy!-type device to push if I needed more medication. When I pushed it, I could feel the medicine going through the tube taped to my back. It was very cold and felt good against my hot skin. At 6 AM I was finally nice and cozy in my bed. Mark and I settled in to await the birth of our first child. Mark got out the video camera to take some footage of the moment. While he was videotaping me, my water broke at exactly 6:09 AM. Rebecca was still in the room and she checked to see how far I was dilated. I think we were all a little shocked to discover I was at 10cm already! I had progressed 5cm in less than 2 hours. Looking back, my giddiness during my epidural would have been during transition. Most women (I’m told) get very reserved during this time. Apparently, I get in a really good mood and very talkative.

Rebecca went to fetch the doctor. The one on call (Dr. P) was my least favorite of the practice. I liked him okay, but he was no Dr. M (my favorite). Dr. P is all business and very serious. I knew they changed shifts at 7 o’clock, so one part of me was hoping I could hold out until then. Dr. P came in and checked me himself. My waters bag had re-sealed itself and he had to re-break it. I felt miffed when he said I still had a ways to go. For some reason, that felt like a challenge to me. I have a competitive streak and I wanted to prove him wrong. I looked at the clock, noted it was almost 6:20, and told him she would be born at 6:42. He waved his hand at me and left.

Only a few minutes passed when I suddenly felt like I desperately needed to go to the bathroom. In a panic I told Rebecca I was going to have a BM (that’s code for bowel movement). I was so worried I was about to embarrass myself on the bed, but she knew something I didn’t. Rebecca knew that this feeling was actually the baby wanting to be born. This might be a good time to mention that I never took a child birthing class. I feel certain this is the kind of thing they teach in those classes. All I knew about child birthing came from movies (remember Prissy in Gone With the Wind?) or birth stories I read online. Not once did I hear or read that you will feel like you need to poop when it is time to push!

Rebecca checked and said it was time for me to give a few ‘practice pushes’. She had Mark take my left leg and she took my right. They pulled my knees back and put one hand on the bottom of my feet. Then she told me to push. There was only one problem, I didn’t know exactly where to push. That probably sounds funny, but hey I had never been in this position, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I wanted to be effective so I asked Rebecca if she would place her hand where I needed to focus and to give me some counter-pressure. She didn’t bat an eye and it worked! I was pushing so well now that she had to ask me to stop long enough to get Dr. P back in the room.

Dr. P arrived and so did the neonatal team (a neonatologist and two neonatal nurses). It was time to get down to business. The team set up in the right hand corner of the room and prepared to take care of our baby’s needs as soon as she was born. Now that I knew the time was almost here, all the concerns and worries for Emily came to a head. When Mark and Rebecca once again pulled my knees back, I gave it all I had. Instead of pushing for a count of 10, I pushed for 15 seconds each push. I wanted to get her out as soon as possible. I needed to see how she was, what she was going to be like. There was nothing slow and steady about this delivery, it was fast and furious.

At 6:43 AM, January 22, 2001 our daughter, our miracle, was born.

Chapter 9: Almost Perfect

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