Thursday, February 7, 2013

Owen's Birth Story

Patrick has reminded me several times in the past few weeks to write this post before I forget all the details. It seems hard to put everything into words. The day of Owen's arrival was somewhat of a blur and yet it still feels like yesterday.

It all happened on a Sunday- two days after my 36 week checkup where I convinced myself that Owen was going to be stubborn and wait around until his due date.

The day before had been busy. Patrick and I had spent the day making preparations for our little man, for Christmas, and for our house which was about to get painted. We purchased our tree, went to lunch, picked out paint colors that we thought we might like for the exterior of our house as well as the front door, and returned home to finish up some work. As the sun was setting that day, Patrick and I went outside and began slapping various shades of green paint on the side of our house. It was getting a little chilly, but I was feeling pretty good. I was exhausted as usual but oddly enough I wasn't feeling many contractions. I do remember feeling a ton of pressure though. It was the kind of pressure that sent me to the bathroom every 15 minutes.

That night we lounged around in the living room. We couldn't really decide on dinner and I wasn't very hungry for real food. I popped a bag of popcorn instead and at some point I fell asleep on the couch. Around 11pm Patrick woke me up and helped me move to the bedroom. The next thing I remember was waking up with a very urgent need for the bathroom.

I rolled to my other side, glanced at the clock- 4:30am- pushed myself up with my arms, and began waddling through the dark bedroom around the foot of the bed towards the bathroom. As I got to the threshold I was startled by something... Is my underwear wet?

For a fleeting moment I was somewhat panicked... could it be?... I decided I'd better actually close the bathroom door so I could turn on the light. My underwear was soaked. I sat there on the toilet contemplating what to do next. My labor and delivery knowledge finally kicked in. If my water was broken then it would keep leaking, and it wasn't. Also, I have to tell women practically every week about loss of bladder control as pregnancy progresses. I had just peed my pants... great.

I opened the bathroom door and went to get clean underwear. My rummaging around woke Patrick who of course wanted to know what was going on. Embarrassed, I decided it was best to be honest. "I just peed my pants... I think. That or my water broke, but I'm not leaking so I guess I just peed." My voice definitely trailed off during that second sentence. The lamp on the nightstand came on and I turned to see Patrick propped on his elbow staring at me. "You what?" Then I was a little frustrated. Was he really going to make me repeat my embarrassment? Then I remember asking him if the bed was wet next to him.... It wasn't.... darn.

We went back and forth for a minute as I replayed everything that had occurred since my waking. I also assured him that if my water was broken, then it would keep leaking, and it wasn't. I told him that I had even sat down and stood up off the toilet several times to see what would happen. He wasn't convinced (neither was I to be honest) and so he pulled out our copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting. We still weren't convinced of anything so I decided that I would just put on a pad, get back in bed, and see what happened.

As I laid there I remembered the cough test. We make women do this all the time when they come in complaining of being ruptured. I just had to cough really hard and see if water leaked out. I took a deep breath and coughed...

My water was broken... ("Holy crap. My water is broken!" was the internal dialogue playing in my head) I knew it without a doubt. I remember laying there in the bed allowing this to sink in. We have to go to the hospital. We have to get labor started. I'm not full term. Oh my gosh, I have to give birth to a baby... I was excited, overwhelmed, and determined.

Thankfully, I had packed my bags the week before (as in 4 days ago) and I had made a list for Patrick explaining to him what he needed to pack. I also headed straight for the shower. I knew better than to hurry to the hospital like this was some kind of emergency. We took our time. I ate a bowl of cereal while Patrick was in the shower. I also knew better than to show up for labor hungry because we don't feed laboring women. Before we left we did one last thing. We took the following picture. I figured I'd want one last look at my pregnant self before we left.

36 weeks and 2 days. It's go time!
When I look at this picture now, I think, "Wow, I looked rough!" Once we were in the car, I called to let my coworkers know I was on my way. During the drive I remember starting to feel some contractions. They were slightly more uncomfortable than my usual ones, but not bad. I had trouble focusing on the prayer that Patrick offered up while we drove. I had so many emotions and thoughts going through my head.

Everything was going great as we pulled into the parking lot outside of the Women's and Infants' Center... until I stood up to get out of the car. Hello, Niagara Falls! Patrick's passenger seat sure did dodge a bullet on that one! My pants however were not so lucky... neither was I for that matter. I had to parade into the hospital looking like I peed my pants. A coworker later asked me what I was thinking rolling up in there without a towel when I knew my water was broken. I honestly have no clue. I claim placenta brain on that one.

Delivering where you work sure does have its perks. I marched right on past check-in- which Patrick thought was hilarious. I just remember really wet pants, tons of pressure, a contraction, and telling the two women "I work here and my water broke so I'm going upstairs. He can tell you whatever you need. They already know I'm coming." Patrick told me later that as I was walking off one lady said to the other. "OH look! Her water DID break," with a sympathetic look in my direction.

When I arrived upstairs they told me to bypass the evaluation unit and go pick my labor room. I guess when you're a labor nurse they just believe you when you tell them your water is broken. What's funny is that I don't remember for sure what room I ended up picking. I think it was room five? It was one of the only rooms available. Apparently, Owen decided to come on a very popular birthday.

IV in place and ready to get this show on the road. Give me the pitocin!
By the time we made it to our room and got everything in place that we needed (admission paperwork, questions, IV, and initial assessment) it was shift change. I was 3cm/75%effaced/-1station and contracting. They still were not painful enough, though. I knew that I needed pitocin. The doctor on at the time wanted to give me a couple of hours so I got up and walked some, but I remember looking at Sheila (my awesome nurse and friend) and telling her I was ready for pitocin. I didn't want to wait around for an infection to set in. I just had a feeling from the beginning that it was going to be long day. I hoped I was wrong, of course, but my gut told me to prepare myself.

9am and pitocin is now running.
The next doctor taking over for the Sunday shift (Dr. Fitzwater) came in and re-checked me. I was no change and so at 9am we started the pitocin. And then we stopped pitocin.... I was a little frustrated but tried not to let on much. My stupid uterus thought it would be cool to have 4 minute long contractions. Sheila ended up having to re-start the pitocin at a much slower rate. (0.5mu/min). We in the biz call this the sneak attack. It eventually worked and we got the pitocin up to 8 or 10 I think. I'm really not sure if it ever went any higher. My uterus still enjoyed contracting a little too much (go figure, right?). However, I didn't care. I wanted Owen out of there as quickly and safely as possible. I kept asking Sheila, "Is his heartrate okay?" When she would respond with a yes then I would tell her to keep the pit running then.

It was labor room 5! Glad I have pictures.
By lunchtime my parents, Patrick's parents, and my sister arrived. They came in to visit for a bit. Unfortunately it was just for a bit. I started hurting- the type of pain that made it hard to focus on anything else. I found it hard to pay attention to what everyone was saying. I found it hard to breath normal. I found it hard to form sentences. I knew then that we were getting somewhere! Everyone decided to head out for lunch and I decided that it was as good a time as any to ask for that epidural.

It was getting really hard to smile for these pictures.

My sister tells me that this process took forever. I honestly don't remember. I was just focused on breathing. In my head, I was in a crew boat. That's right, I went back to my high school rowing days. I closed my eyes and pictured myself in that boat racing towards the finish line. I felt the pain, but I decided to row through it. I counted breaths in my head like they were strokes (It was like every contraction was a "power 10" or "power 20"). I reminded myself that the finish line would come and that then I would be allowed to stop.

Me in my "crew boat".
Eventually the anesthesiologist arrived and I sat up for the epidural process. This also seemed to fly by. I do remember Sheila asking me if I wanted her to turn the pit down. I just shook my head no. We were making progress. I was shaking. This was good. The epidural took really well on one side at first. I was slightly concerned that we were going to have an issue, but luckily it worked itself out and kicked in on the other side. At some point after this Sheila checked me and said that I was 5cm. Then she said, "Wait, I could call you 6." I'm not sure if she was being nice or what. I never asked her. I was just glad that I wasn't hurting anymore.

Logged into my own vocera:)
 By 5pm that day, I was getting tired of the pace. I wanted Owen in my arms so badly I could have screamed. I remember asking Sheila to check me. I was beginning to feel different... There was a pressure that hadn't been there and I noticed that there was blood in my catheter. Sounds strange, but it's always something labor nurses look for to signal that the baby has dropped lower and that delivery is close. I was 9cm. Thank God! I was glad there was a good change.

Blurry pic, but happy to be making progress.
Sometime in the 6 o'clock hour I began to complain of pressure even more. I was convinced that I was about to go to the bathroom. This is also something we labor nurses look for to signal delivery. Even though I knew this to be true- I panicked a bit. Sheila could tell stories about how much I made a big deal over the pressure. It kind of makes me laugh now. It wasn't long before I told her that I was pushing. She just looked at me and said, "Okay." This also cracks me up because I'm pretty sure that she had just told me that I was anterior lip- not complete. However, I started pushing. I just couldn't handle that pressure anymore and pushing made it better.

To say that I gave it my all from the get go is an understatement. I know they say that having an epidural makes it hard to know what to do, but I knew exactly where to push. My determination kicked in full force. I pushed with everything that I had. I remember Dr. Fitzwater coming in, leaving briefly, and returning. After a few pushes I realized that he wasn't planning on leaving again. This encouraged me. I must have been pushing semi-okay if he thought he should stay. I pushed, and pushed, and pushed. Everyone was encouraging me, but I was beginning to wonder what was taking so long. They asked if I wanted a mirror. Yes, I became one of those women. However, it really makes sense to me now. I watch other women have babies all the time. Why wouldn't I want to watch myself do the same? No big deal. Plus it helped me a TON. I could see the progress that I made with every push.

Not long after that I remember the push. The push that makes all the difference. The one that puts that little baby's head so low that there is no turning back. It's the push that is always the game changer when you have heart tones down. It's the push that spells relief to many doctors and nurses who are beginning to wonder if it's in the cards for a vaginal delivery. My little man was coming. I began to push even more. I don't even think I was waiting on contractions anymore. I knew that I was possibly mere seconds away from seeing him and touching him.

It must have taken a little more than a few seconds because at some point Dr. Fitzwater told me that he could cut an episiotomy. I panicked a little. Had I missed something? Were heart tones down? I asked if Owen was okay. They said he was. Relieved I responded, "If he's okay, then I'm okay." I could be patient a little longer. I could push more. I knew I had it in me.

And then came that blissful moment where the head moves from the "crowning" position. I could see that his head was beginning to emerge. This is when I just closed my eyes and gave it the steadiest and strongest push I could muster up. And then..... crying.... my baby was crying.

Tears were already welling up in my eyes. I looked down to see my sweet baby boy. He was perfect. He was here. He was safe. I'm pretty sure I just about snatched him out of Dr. Fitzwater's hands. I couldn't pull him into my arms fast enough. I sobbed like a baby. I thanked God that he was okay. After months of wondering, praying, hoping, and waging war against my anxious heart, I cried tears of complete and utter relief. I looked up to see Patrick. He was crying. Even now, months later, I can't fully describe the greatness of those first moments. We were no longer just husband and wife... We were a family- mom, dad, and son.


  1. What a beautiful story! He is such a handsome little man :) Hope all is continuing to go well!

  2. Thanks, Amy! We're doing well. I'm heading back to work next week which makes me a little sad. Maybe I'll see you around sometime soon:)