Sunday, September 5, 2010

Birth Story

This week has been one of the most defining experiences of my life, but has also been filled with some of the most traumatic moments I've ever had to deal with. My mom suggested that maybe writing everything down would help me sort through it in my mind and be able to deal with it better. I don't know who would want to read it, and if you are currently pregnant I actually recommend that you don't read it. However, I'm sure having other people know what I am going through and also had to go through, will help me to better cope with what has happened and what I will still have to face in the future.

I guess most of this started three weeks ago when I started realizing that I was swelling more than normal and that my blood pressure (which pre-pregnancy ran around 90/60) was creeping upwards of 150/110 at times. My doctor and I kept in touch and after a few stays in the hospital I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. The only way to solve this was to deliver the baby, but we figured we could hold off long enough to deliver that Skylar would be fine. I was put on strict bedrest to try to keep him in there as long as possible, but last Monday everything reached a point where it threatened my life too much to have him stay in utero. Everyone assured me that he would transition just fine outside of the womb. I think in the back of my mind I knew that he would have to spend some time in the NICU, but since he was only 2 weeks shy of "full-term" (37 weeks) I figured he would still come home with us and we could be a family together.

All things considered when I walked into the hospital on Monday I did know in the back of my mind that there was a chance that I would be delivering my baby before I left. My sister took me up to perinatology and we ran a few tests. After these tests were done they decided to admit me overnight and sent me over to labor and delivery. I didn't realize how serious they were about the possibility of me delivering that day until I started joking with the nurse at the front desk. She had seen me a lot in the past few days, and as I was signing the same paperwork for the third time I remarked, "Man, by the time I actually come here to have my baby I'm going to be a pro at this." She responded with, "Uhm, I think that is why you are here." .....Now enter meltdown mode.

Thankfully my sister had packed most of my hospital bag, and I had created a google doc to help her pack the last few things. So with this new revelation, I texted Ryan at work to let him know that he probably wanted to come to the hospital sooner rather than later. He arrived and we waited awhile to meet with my doctor. Thankfully, one of our friends ended up being our nurse for the evening. It was good to kind of have somebody to abdicate for us and just understand our concerns. We waited around in a room for awhile while they monitored me and Skylar, and around 10 o'clock my doctor came in and announced that enough was enough and it was just time to induce me. They started off with just a cervical gel to see if that would be enough to start me into labor.

After about 10 hours of that I was still only at about 1 cm, so they decided to start me on Pitocin. For those of you unacquainted with this drug, I encourage you to remain that way. It basically kickstarts labor, but is well known for intensifying contractions. Most doctors make you start an epidural when you start Pitocin, but I wanted to see how far I could make it without an epidural. Around this time my mom showed up, and I was already completely exhausted despite barely having any real contractions or progress in labor. I hadn't really slept in the past day since I was constantly awoken by someone wanting to take a blood sample or run tests.

It was now about 4 o'clock in the afternoon and I had progressed to about 2 cms. My mom suggested that I take an epidural since they wanted to crank up the dosage of Pitocin they were giving me. I decided this was good advice, and after a quick visit from the anesthesiologist, I decided that epidurals were a gift from God. With my epidural in they decided to really crank up the Pitocin, and start some heavier contractions. I was fine with this since I could not feel a thing. Unfortunately, about 30 minutes later Skylar's heart rate started dropping into the 30s.

I'm not sure if it was scarier to watch his heart rate disappear, or to watch how quickly my room flooded with doctors and nurses. It was very apparent that something was wrong and the next few minutes were vital to keeping my baby alive. My doctor was not at the hospital at the time, but another doctor proceeded to break my water, stop the Pitocin, and insert a device that would monitor Skylar more effectively from inside the uterus. Thankfully, these measures worked and Skylar's heart rate picked back up.

Unfortunately, this meant that I was left to my own devices to progress in labor without Pitocin, and with a body that was still thinking it should be 35 weeks pregnant. Needless to say, we went another night with not a lot of sleep, and not a lot of progress. It was however painless, thanks to the epidural :) The next morning they decided to slowly start creeping up the levels of Pitocin again since it had been over 30 hours since I had been induced, and since they normally want to deliver a baby within 24 hours of your water breaking.

I can't say when, but somewhere around mid-morning my epidural stopped working. It wasn't the worst experience ever, but I could tell a huge difference in my pain management. I suddenly had to start breathing through my contractions and at times pant or moan just to endure it. I had progressed to about 4 cms, but considering that I had been in labor for 30+ hours this was rather unimpressive. My doctor came in and informed me that she was going to give me one more hour to progress to a 5, otherwise I would have to deliver the baby via C-section. My mom joked that it was a good thing they gave me a specific goal, since I am a very goal oriented person. They proceeded to crank up the Pitocin, and the next hour was one of the most painful I can remember.

I have a very high pain threshold, so once my mom saw me panting and moaning and crying through contractions she knew that something was wrong. She was able to figure this out even further when I told them to page the anesthesiologist. He came in and proceeded to dose me up with more medication in my epidural, but despite a large amount of drugs, my pain stayed pretty consistent. My doctor then came in to check me, and to everyone's surprise I had not only progressed to a 5, but was all the way to a 7. In the past hour my body had almost doubled the progress it had made in the last 35(ish), and had done it without the relief of an epidural. Yes, I'm basically awesome, but I was also in some serious pain. It took about another hour for me to get to 10 cms, and was almost completely effaced when Skylar's heart rate started dropping again.

It was at this point that they started prepping an OR for my delivery, and the anesthesiologist returned to redo the epidural. I have a few moments during this time that I know that I blacked out. I don't remember being transferred to the OR, but I remember waking up under their bright lights and listening to the heart rate monitor and silently talking to Skylar and trying to help him bring his heart rate under control. I'm sure he was just as exhausted as I was at that point, but my doctor knew how desperate I was to avoid a C-section so she let me try pushing a few times. Unfortunately every time I pushed his heart rate dropped lower and lower until it disappeared altogether.

I remember my doctor telling me that we would have to take him out via C-section, and I remember breaking down into the biggest sobs I've ever cried. I felt so helpless, and scared, and nervous for the next procedure my body was going to go through. The anesthesiologist then started testing my body to see if I was still feeling any sensation since they prefer to keep you awake during a C-section. He had a special pen or something that he would push on your body that had a retractable pin. He ran it all up and down my body to test whether I was feeling pain (the pin) or pressure (the pen). I kept telling him that I could feel it when he pressed it against my stomach, but he was positive that I was just being hysterical. I can't say I really blame him considering the large amounts of drugs that he had previously been giving me.

Next thing I knew I was being cut open....and I could feel the knife. I started yelling that I could feel it. The next thing I knew they put me to sleep and I woke up back in labor and delivery. If you want to know what happened in the meantime, you'd have to ask Ryan since I have no memory of the next two hours or so. All I know is I woke up in a new bed, with staples holding my stomach together, and my baby was not with me anymore. This is where shear panic and distress set in. I've been told that for the next few hours I kept asking the same questions over and over again (I was pretty doped up). I kept asking where the baby was, how he was doing, what time he was born, where I was, how big he was, etc.

Thankfully Skylar made it through the delivery, but like myself was a little worse for the wear. The doctors aren't exactly sure what went wrong, why his heart rate kept dropping, why I could feel the incision, and why everything that possibly could go wrong did. The cord was wrapped around his shoulder and so they think that maybe every time I pushed or they turned up the Pitocin it put too much pressure on the cord and cut off oxygen and blood to Skylar. Nevertheless, we both made it through the delivery process and I can now say that I've experienced three labors in one. Laboring with an epidural, laboring without an epidural, and a C-section. I'm basically a pro.

I have a lot of thoughts going through my head still that I'm sure I will write about later. Through it all I had some strong impressions that this was going to be a hard process, but that the outcome would result in me and my son being safe and alive. We're definitely both a little worse for the wear, but our doctors assure us that we won't carry any of the trauma with us for the rest of our lives. In the meantime, I'm grateful for modern medicine because without it my son and I likely wouldn't still be here. We've been mourning a lot around here lately since we are now home, but we had to leave Skylar at the NICU. He'll likely be there for a few more weeks, and my heart just yearns to be with him and hold him. Especially after being so physically attached for the last 8 months. However, today my mom told me that she was praying for guidance in how to help us cope and she received the strong prompting that both Skylar and I narrowly escaped death, and because of that we should be grateful.

I will still mourn the absence of my baby, but I so look forward to the day that we finally get to bring him home. We've put away his clothes and removed the physical reminders of the fact that he is not here with us, but I rejoice that we will have the opportunity to bring him home someday. I don't have to wait until the eternities to be with my baby, and it is because of the priesthood blessings we received, the knowledge of medicine we have been blessed with, and the ability of our doctors to listen to the promptings of the Spirit and know how to keep the two of us in mortality. I have much to be grateful for, and I plan on remembering that every time I cry during the next few weeks.


Aubrey said...

Taylor you are my heroe. Hope you and Skylar have a quick recovery. Our prayers and thoughts are with you.

Brittny said...

You're my hero too! You are so stellar to have made it through everything you went through with so much grace. It was a rough ride but I'm SO grateful both you and Skylar are here in one piece (well, each of you is in one piece respectively :) ). We love you!

Erin said...

You don't know me. I got here via Brittny's blog. I just wanted to tell you that I hope everything is going better now. My daughter also had heart-rate drops (3 of them) during labor, then couldn't make it past my bones when pushing, so we had to go c-section as well. Like you, I wanted to do it without the epidural (made it to 8cm, then my daughter's heart-rate drops made it so I couldn't focus anymore, and the doc wanted me prepped anyways, in case I needed an emergency c-section). Thankfully, my daughter never needed the NICU, but I do understand. It looks from more recent posts that Skylar is doing better, at least.

Best wishes to you!