Sunday, January 18, 2015

Nicholas' Birth Story: Part 1

I'm experiencing a bit of déjà vu today. I can start this post the same way I started another nearly 3 years ago:

I expected to be welcoming a new life into the world this week. Instead, we're celebrating with our one month old baby boy.

While the timing is the same, the stories are very different.

After being surprised by our last baby's early appearance, I was very proactive in trying to keep this baby in until close to my due date. Eileen, my midwife, teased, "You're going to make it to at least 39 weeks, right?" I had every intention of doing so. Throughout the pregnancy, I took a 25 billion probiotic supplement to fight any possible infections, made my own mama's herbal tea to strengthen my uterus, and supplemented with various vitamins and minerals in addition to my prenatal vitamins to overcome any potential problems and ensure that I was overall healthy. I determined to do whatever it took to birth a healthy, full-term baby.

Even though this was my most difficult pregnancy as far as nausea and exhaustion, everything else seemed to be going well. Each prenatal appointment showed the same positive results: vitals were good, urinalysis was good, weight gain was good, baby's growth was good. Everything was good.

Until week 33.

Leighton had gotten free tickets to the U of M football game. We dropped the kids off with my parents and headed to The Big House. Row 23 right at the 50 yard line. But even better than the seats was the company. Just the two of us, for hours. We talked and laughed, cuddled under a blanket in the rain, watched the game, and just enjoyed being together. We left with a few minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, partly because we wanted to miss the rush of people and partly because I was physically spent. Sitting on bleachers for 3 hours was more than enough for my pregnant self.

We speed walked the mile or so from our seats to the van. Between my achy back and round ligament pains, I was uncomfortable. Leighton suggested multiple times that we slow down, but I figured the faster we got back, the sooner we were out of the cold and the sooner I could relax.   

We stopped for some coffee to warm us up on the way home, I put a disposable heating pad on my back, and I reclined my seat. Already I was feeling better. Everything was good. 

And then, as we pulled off the expressway, I felt a contraction. Eh, no big deal. I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks (first pregnancy to have them) for weeks.

Then I felt another not long after. Ok, that was a little odd. I looked at the time, just in case.

And then, another. Four minutes. I casually mentioned to Leighton that I was having contractions. The look on my face betrayed me, and he became concerned. We tried not to worry as we continued to drive.

Four minutes. Again.

The fifth contraction came as we pulled into my parents' driveway.
I lay down and started drinking glass after glass of water. After a couple hours, the contractions slowed. We left the kids there for the night, not knowing if a hospital trip was in our very near future. We headed home and went to bed. It was there that I spend the rest of the weekend.

Though the contractions weren't coming as quickly, they were, indeed, still coming, both randomly and every time I stood. Throughout the course of the next week or so, I spoke with Eileen many times. We discussed every possible scenario and what actions needed to be taken to keep the baby safe. Over time, it became apparent that complete bed rest was best.

Bed rest. Ugh. I had been on bed rest with Jake also. Three weeks of sitting around doing nothing. But that wasn't really that big of a deal. We were living with my parents at the time, so they took care of everything at home, and the school got a substitute to teach my classes. But this time? This was different. I had my own house and 4 young children to care for. The first week especially was difficult for me. Sure, my mom was coming over every week day to help and Leighton was managing everything in the evenings and weekends, but emotionally, I was having a difficult time. I was the one who was supposed to be cleaning. I was the one who should have been cooking. I was the one who needed to help my kids.

But I couldn't.

I couldn't, and that hurt. After Tyler's early birth, I so wanted this birth to go perfectly. Now, I wasn't even sure I'd have a home birth at all. Of course I wanted another home birth and to actually birth in the birthing pool (instead of the bathtub, again), but more than just for the experience of it, I wanted it to happen because that meant the baby was far enough along to safely be born. I did everything I could to ensure it went as planned, but it wasn't enough. I knew that bed rest was the absolute best option for all of us--especially baby--but it was not easy.

Sometime during the second week, I changed my poor-me attitude. If I was truly going to do what was best for baby and still hope for the birth I planned, then I needed to fully accept that bed rest was the only way.  I enjoyed being with my mom every day, appreciated meals sent from our church, did my Christmas shopping online, worked on some projects for the kids, and continued with our schooling--all while sitting on the couch. I set aside my pride and stopped thinking but I want to do it all! and instead focused on I will do what's best.  

Things went on like that for 3 weeks. There were constant questions: how long will baby stay in? will we make it until at least 36 weeks? how much can I get done for Christmas after coming off bed rest before the work sends me into labor? How and What if became regulars in my thinking. I couldn't change any of it, but I am always analyzing things and like to be prepared. I joked that everything was just going to stop and baby was going to be 2 weeks late.

I had put off purchasing and gathering my supplies because we weren't sure if there was going to be a home birth. As my uterus stopped contracting from the lack of activity and we got closer to the full-term mark, I ordered my birthing kit and pool. The kit arrived a few days later, the pool did not.

As long as I refrained from much exertion, the contraction were practically nonexistent. I started to believe that we just might have a January birth after all. Eileen went out of town for a few days, leaving the number of a nurse midwife (who had accompanied her during both Tyler's and Nicholas' prenatal appointments), just in case something were to happen. I was not the least bit nervous with her leaving. I was going to stay on bed rest until she returned the following Tuesday. At that point, I would be 36 weeks and my kit and pool would be here. If I went into labor, we were ready.

Except we never made it to Tuesday.

To be continued . . .Part 2 of Nicholas' birth story.

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