Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ava's Birth Day

I have a very special baby girl, who we struggled to conceive, who shouldn't have existed due to the medicine I was taking, who made it through a high-risk pregnancy and defied the odds, and who almost didn't survive delivery.

This is the story of her birth day!

We really hoped Ava would show up on her due date, the 4th of July. Of course, we had no control over it, so we continued about our last few days as if nothing was different.

I made 2 pecan pie cheesecakes for a BBQ on Saturday. We made some food for the 4th, and chose to just hang out at home all day. We went for a walk with Duke, about 2.5 miles. We went to see fireworks on post with a comfy view in our car. The joke was always that if Ava hadn't arrived yet, that the fireworks would scare her out!

(And they did!)

We went to bed that night, and I played on my phone for a bit.

And I felt a mild contraction.

I didn't really think much of it because I had contractions through the night on Thursday. I think I may have had another contraction before I fell asleep.

Then, at 1:15, I had a contraction that woke me up. It was pretty strong! I stayed in bed to see if I would get more of them or if I could just go back to sleep. An hour later, I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep through them, so I got up to hang out on the couch downstairs. I used an app on my phone to keep track of them. They were anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes apart and lasted for about 1 minute each. They were uncomfortable to get through on the recliner, so after an hour I got up and tried sitting on the yoga ball. That was uncomfortable, so for the next one, I tried leaning over with my hands on the counter. That seemed to feel better. After a couple more contractions, I noticed the pattern had changed - they were now between 3 and 4 minutes apart and were lasting right at 30 seconds each. I decided it was time to wake Chris, and just as I was headed upstairs his alarm went off. He had to go into work for a bit, so I told him that I was having contractions. We decided that I would go to work with him and we would pack everything in the car for the hospital and decide what to do after he was done. The contractions weren't that intense yet, so we went to Chic Fil A for a quick breakfast. I realized if this was in fact labor, this was my last chance to eat!

On the drive across town (the drive to the nearest Chic Fil A is like 15 minutes on the interstate, ugh) I think I was realizing that this was in fact labor and that we would probably be having our baby girl today! I was a ball of nerves and ended up only eating half of my chicken biscuit!

And then we drove to the hospital! It was around 6:30 in the morning.

I got all settled in an exam room and was talking with the nurse about what my contractions were like and how the pregnancy has gone. She seemed a bit shocked when I told her they were currently about 3-4 minutes apart! She left the room to go find the midwife on call. She came in and did an ultrasound and checked me. I was dilated to a 4 and was 100% effaced! We were all very excited! I was afraid we'd show up and get sent home because there were no changes. The ultrasound showed that Ava's head was a little off to the side so I would need to walk to get her to move. They told me that they would have me walk for 40 minutes and then get back on the monitors for 20 minutes and repeat.

They got me all set up in a large laboring room. The nurse asked me about what kind of pain management I planned on doing. I told her I'd like to hold off for as long as possible to see what my body could do. She was very supportive, and told me that there are options for pain relief if it got to be too much. And then I began the walking! We had to walk nice and slow and I had to hold on to the handle rails in the hospital hallways to get through my contractions. I have very different thoughts on these hospital hallways now! All of our doctor appointments are at this hospital, so I'm going to be there quite often.

We got back to the room and I got on the monitors. The contractions were much more painful to get through laying in the bed. The second round of walking I decided to stay in the room and use a pregnancy ball. Contractions were becoming tougher to breathe through. And changing positions usually triggered them, making going to the bathroom no fun! I was having thoughts of painkillers, so I asked the nurse if I could be checked to see what kind of progress I was making. When I got back on the monitors, the nurse told me I needed to stay on the monitors because baby was having decels for some reason. The midwife came in and checked me and told me I was at a 5! She instructed me to lay on my left side to help baby's heart rate. After a few more contractions stuck in bed, I decided to ask about my options for pain relief. I opted to go with an IV painkiller first, preceded by an anti-nausea medication.

It barely took the edge off. Like instead of the contractions making a pointy peak, it was more rounded of a peak, if that makes sense.

The nurse came back in and said she needed me to switch to my right side for the sake of her heart rate. She wasn't tolerating the left side anymore. And after just like 1 or 2 more contractions on my right side, my hip started to hurt really bad. I had the whole body shakes. I was beginning to become more vocal through the contractions. It only took like 1 more contraction for me to ask for the epidural. The anesthesiologist arrived pretty quickly. But, it took FOREVER for him to administer it - I was stuck in that horrible hunched over position and had 3 more contractions before it was complete! And I had to try to calm myself to stop the shaking so he could insert it correctly.

Thankfully, it worked! I was able to relax on my back and I soon realized my legs were numb to the touch. The nurse came in and told me to get back on my right side because baby was having more decels. It was more tolerable as I had numbness in my hip. 

Suddenly the nurse and midwife came rushing back in and told us that they were going to break my water because baby kept having decels and they weren't really sure why, and that labor needed to be progressed to get baby out. I rolled to my back and the midwife proceeded to break my water. I felt a warm gush and she said that there was meconium in the waters. The midwife and nurse were talking quietly, but urgently, and apparently I was at a 7/8. Then the nurse demanded that I roll to my right side, followed by an urgent Now, sweetie. Quickly.

The next thing I know, our room is flooded with commotion, and my bed is being lowered to a position to get my head lower than my feet, and the midwife is climbing onto the bed with me, her hand still up at my cervix. The nurse says that she is so sorry, but we have to get baby out now. Being on my right side, I was gripping the side handle to stay on my side with the doctor between my legs, so my face only had a view of the side rail. I think this was a blessing - I was able to remain calm and focus on praying for everything to be alright amidst the urgent talk "where is everyone?" "let them know we're coming!" 

I could hear her heartbeat on the monitor. It was so incredibly slow. The beeping tone was a different sound than a heart rate in a normal range. It was no longer the quick woosh-woosh-woosh sound and was more like

thump.

thump.

thump.

It was the scariest sound I have ever heard.

Chris had to help push us into the OR, with the midwife still on top of me, trying to help stabilize baby's heart rate, until everyone else seemed to appear out of nowhere. Please don't take my Ava, was all I could think.

There was lots of commotion in the OR. Everyone was scrambling and moving about. No one was shouting, but there were lots of loud discussions. I had a nurse up by me having me breathe into one of those mask things, and I heard someone say the umbilical cord was coming out first. The doctor appeared in my face and petted my hair and said that they were going to get baby out now and that they will take very good care of us both. Another nurse was by my face keeping me calm. The anesthesiologist was back in the room, ready to give me the spinal. They moved me from my laboring bed to the OR table, and then some part of the epidural broke. "How can this break?" I heard him say in disbelief. He quickly explained to me that they had no choice but to put me under general anesthetic. He quickly gave me some sort of injection in my IV that burned like crazy and he asked me to take a big, deep breath. And another.

And that's the last thing I remember.

The next thing I know, I'm back in my laboring room, and it all empty and quiet.

Just me and the nurse.

She explained to me that baby was out and she was fine and was in the special babies unit with Chris.

She was fine! She was perfectly fine!

So I was okay.

Ava was being washed up so she could come and see me. She had been given an IV to give her fluids to pink her up a bit.

Chris came into the room and hugged me and showed me some pictures of her. She looked so sweet! He showed me the "Air Assault Birth Ceritficate", which is like a keepsake birth certificate, I guess, and it had her tiny footprints on it. So tiny!

I asked Chris if he was okay. I felt badly for him that he was out of the loop and must have felt so helpless. I could tell by his genuine response and body language that he was doing great - he had gotten to spend time with Miss Ava!

And then, they brought her to me!

It all seemed so surreal. This was my baby. OUR baby.

And she was perfect.

Shortly after we were taken to our new room in the Mother and Baby unit. We got all settled and Chris got to hold Ava for the first time. We were completely in love!

Over the course of my short stay at the hospital (I was released Monday at 10 am, so it was only like 48 hours!) we had visits from staff who had various comments about the delivery and Ava. The anesthesiologist came in and talked to me about what happened. He showed me the piece that broke, and at first they thought it broke because of how quickly they were trying to move me between beds. But the piece I guess is designed not to break at all, and he said he was very sorry for this. He was very bothered by the fact that it happened and he said he was writing up a report with intentions to send it to the manufacturer.

The doctor who performed the csection came in to talk to us, too. She said that the surgery lasted about 30 minutes and they had Ava out within 10 minutes. When she was closing things up and suctioning things out, she said she noticed my cervix wasn't exactly centered up with my uterus. It was a little to the side, which explains why Ava wasn't lined up, either. Other than than, everything was as it would normally be. She said that the umbilical cord was what was causing the decels and Ava kept ending up on top of it or something. They were anticipating that it would need to be a csection for this reason, just not an emergency one. She told me that I am still eligible for a VBAC should I want one in the future. I was happy to hear that! Considering that I labored almost unassisted  and only had about 30 minutes worth of an epidural and I made it to a 7/8 makes me think I probably could have got my head right and delivered her naturally. It wasn't something I was set in stone to do, but I just wanted to see what my own body could do. When the nurse had first brought Ava to me, she was commenting on how precious and tiny her head was, and knowing I wanted to at least try to go naturally, she told me it would have been pretty easy to push this little one out! She was a fantastic nurse. I really liked her! My midwife who was checking me during labor was great, too. Even Chris though so. She was able to remain so calm when things got scary, which made us able to stay calm.

One nurse came in and was taking Ava's vitals and told us that all things considered, Ava should have had complications. She said that she must have had a guardian angel because the meconium and prolapsed cord can cause major problems, and to see a baby with none really doesn't happen.

I think I know who that angel is. :)

So, it was a very, very intense weekend full of emotions! We are so happy to have Ava here with us. Parenthood has been both a joy and a struggle so far, but she is so worth it!!

We love you, Ava Mckenzie!!!

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