August 28, 2009

Camryn's Birth Story - 9 days long!

I had been having relatively strong Braxton Hicks contractions throughout the night for a few nights, but in the very early morning of August 19, three days after my due date, the contractions seemed to get 'crampy' instead of just tight. That morning when I went to the bathroom, I noticed some blood. I thought this must mean something was happening, so I called Derek, and let him know I was having some mild contractions, but he didn't need to rush home from work, as they were not regular at all, and not painful.

A few minutes later, Derek called back to tell me that his back hurt, but I didn't think too much of it at the time. I continued to have contractions throughout the day, starting to get regular, and as close together as 8 minutes. Derek came home from work and was barely able to walk because of his back, and I took that as a sign that this had to be the day our baby was coming!

After supper, I noticed more blood. Contractions were still there but no longer regular. In the middle of the night, contractions picked up again, and so did the bleeding. I started to worry about how much blood there was, so at 3ish am on Thursday, Aug 20th, we brought Connor to my sister's and headed to the hospital. I was sure that because I was a VBAC, and past my due date, that they would admit and induce me, but that was not the case.

When we arrived at the hospital they hooked me up to the monitors and everything looked fine, but we had to wait until morning to get an ultrasound done to check the location of the placenta to make sure there were no visible abruptions, and that the placenta was not covering my cervix. Both circumstances would require an immediate C-Section. I was sure that the ultrasound would show the placenta over my cervix, because when they checked my original 20 week ultrasound it showed the placenta to be low-lying and close to the opening of my cervix. I should add that since we knew we had to wait until morning for the ultrasound, Derek went to the ER at the hospital to get something for his back so that he would be able to function if I was to have the baby that day.

My ultrasound was at 9:30am, and then I had to wait until after 1pm before Dr Tam came to see me with the results of the ultrasound, which thankfully showed no signs of abruption or previa. She then checked me for dilation and said I was at 1cm, and almost completely effaced. She gave me the option to be induced, or to go home. I decided to go home, and she said that she thought I would have the baby before the end of the weekend, but I was required to go for daily Non-Stress Tests until delivery. Derek was finally done in the ER, and we drove home to have a nap before picking Connor up and bringing him back home.

Contractions continued off and on for the next few days, but not regular, except at night. They never got closer than 10 minutes apart for very long, and there was not any real bleeding with them, so we didn't get too excited. On Saturday, August 22nd, while I was having a bath, contractions seemed to pick up in frequency, coming every 5 minutes, and in intensity. They were to the point that I would have to stop and really focus to get through them. They stayed this way for about an hour, and I had more bleeding, so we phoned my sister to let her know we were bringing Connor over again, and then got everything ready to go. As soon as I called her though, the contractions slowed to about 10-15 minutes apart. But, because of the bleeding, we still went in to the hospital.

I was hooked to the monitors again and then checked, and I was around 1.5cm dilated. The nurse asked us to walk around for an hour and then she would check me again. Derek and I walked from about 11pm to midnight, and contractions picked up again to about 7 minutes apart, and they were pretty painful! I was certain this was it, but when we got back I was dilated to only a 2, so they sent us home, again! The nurse was certain we'd be back in a few hours, but contractions pretty much stopped on the way home, though they still would be painful when they did happen.

I continued to go to my daily non-stress tests ,and continued to have irregular, mildly painful contractions for a number of days, always becoming regular overnight, but never closer together. I went to my 41 week appointment and had my membranes stripped. Dr. Tam assured me that labor had to be close.

On August 24th however, the non stress test showed that the baby was having small heart rate decelerations when I would have a contraction. The nurses called Dr. Tam, and she said all was well because baby recovered quickly, and was very active otherwise. This happened at every NST after the 24th. On August 27th, they noticed a number of decels, and one particularly large one, so they sent me upstairs for further monitoring. Dr. Tam was on call that evening, and met me up in Labor & Delivery. I heard her mention to another nurse that they would have a hard time keeping me, because I really wanted to go into labor on my own (She'd originally wanted to induce me on August 25th, but I asked for August 31st instead.) But - I was exhausted from having contractions all night long every night, and I was getting concerned about the decels on the NST's. It seemed that it was as good a time as any to have a baby, so I said, "Actually, if you want to induce me now, I wouldn't say no!!" Dr. Tam was very happy to agree, so we set to getting things started.

I had been having Derek drive me to the hospital for the NST's and bring Connor along so that I wouldn't have to worry about finding parking, and be late for my appointments. Derek and Connor would go to a park and play until I was ready to go home. This time though, I had forgotten my cell phone(which I do all the time!!!), but, they just happened to be walking in to check on me, and I think I surprised Derek when I said we were going to have a baby! This was probably the least 'in labor' I had been in over a week! So, we phoned my sister, I gave my two boys hugs and kisses, and then Derek headed off to take Connor to my sister's again.

While Derek was dropping off Connor, the nurses got me admitted and Dr. Tam checked me, I was 3cm dilated, so she decided to start the Pitocin drip and see how my baby & my uterus responded to more intense contractions before she would break my water. Because I was a VBAC hopeful, they upped the pitocin at half the rate they would have for a normal induction. Derek was back before the contractions got much stronger than I had been having on my own, and I had called my friend Beth and asked her to come, and she showed up before too long also.

As they picked up in frequency and intensity, so did the back labor that accompanied them. I labored in bed with the monitors on for as long as I could manage, but then I asked if I could stand and move around. They checked me before I got out of bed and for a moment the nurse had thought I was 7cm, but then she found the thinnest layer of cervix, and declared I was still at 3cm. I smacked her on the arm and told her she shouldn't have gotten my hopes up like that!

When I got out of bed I asked for a hot pack that Derek would push into my lower back while I was standing and leaning onto the bed, and I managed to cope with the contractions for quite some time this way. Unfortunately, the fetal monitors did not pick up baby's heart rate very well in this position, so they eventually asked me to lay down in the bed for a 15 minute strip on the monitors. In this position I did not cope very well with the contractions at all, and neither did the baby. There was a significant deceleration with every contraction, but the baby did recover quickly. Dr. Tam suspected the cord was around the baby's neck, but she allowed me to get off the monitors and get into the shower for a while, as we both seemed to cope better when not in bed. The cord around the neck is not always a problem, and we were hoping that the baby could get into a better position so the pressure of the contractions would not compress the cord. I also suspected that the baby was 'sunny side up' because of the intense back labor I was experiencing, and was hoping being upright would help the baby turn posterior. Before getting into the shower I was checked again, and I had made it to 5cm, which was great news to me, that was a full 2cm farther than I had made it with Connor.

Around this time the nurses stopped upping the pitocin. I was at a 42; most regular inductions can see that number as high as 120. While confined to the bed I accepted laughing gas as pain relief. I can't actually say that it lessened the pain, but somehow it helped me cope through the contractions in bed, and while I was in the shower. None of us really kept track of time, but in the early hours of the morning I decided that I needed to have an epidural. I was not coping well with the back pain, and I couldn't keep my body from tensing with each contraction, which was not going to help me dilate! The nurse agreed it was a good idea, she felt that allowing my body to relax would encourage my cervix to progress.

They had me get back in bed to check me before they gave me the epidural, and also because I was feeling some pressure with each contraction. My main nurse, Jenn, was hopeful that maybe I was close to complete, but when she checked me, she didn't even say a number, she just said that the anesthesiologist could go ahead with the epidural. I asked if I was still a 5 and she said yes. I was disappointed, but was still hopeful the epidural might help things along, or at least allow for my body to relax enough that the baby could cope better with the contractions.

Getting the epidural was very hard, because I had to stay completely still while they were placing the needle. I lost it for a bit and said there was no way I could cope with a contraction in the position I had to be in during the epidural placement. Jenn came over and gave me a big bear hug and held me still during the whole thing while in my head I kept repeating, "No contractions now, no contractions now!!" The very second they told me I could move, I got hit with a huge contraction! But every contraction after that became less and less painful.

The problem now though, was that I had to stay in bed, and the baby did not handle contractions well while I was lying on my back, and it also made me feel very, very nauseous. Thankfully the epidural was what's called a "walking epidural" so I was able to move my legs and roll from side to side to see if that helped. Dr. Tam also broke my water around this time, and noticed there was blood in the amniotic fluid. She was concerned, but allowed me to continue to see if labor would progress now that I had the epidural. My nausea went away completely when I was on my side, but unfortunately, the decelerations the baby was having were getting longer, despite being on my side and wearing an oxygen mask.

Dr Tam and the nurses were so very supportive of my wish to VBAC, they gave me every opportunity, and every minute possible to see if things would progress. But, there came a point where even I was thinking this had to be too much for this little baby to cope with, and shortly after that the nurses advised me we'd need to proceed to a C-Section. Though I cried when they said this, I knew it was time... It was time to meet my baby, and it had to happen this way.

Very quickly they got us into the OR. It took a while for my epidural to be upped enough that I didn't feel anything, and then they brought Derek in to sit with me. Things seemed to be going fine, though now that I was once again flat on my back, I was quite nauseous again. Once they had made the incision, they attempted to get the baby out. The baby was indeed sunny side up, and they could actually see baby's face moving back and forth across the incision. Dr Tam's hand got stuck under the baby in my uterus during two contractions, and it seemed they could not get the baby out, even with 5 people pushing on my stomach with unbearable force. The atmosphere in the operating room was very tense, and it seemed like it was impossible to get the baby out. They were pushing and pushing on my belly, and despite being completely numb from the epidural, the pain from the force of the pushing had me crying out.

At one point I turned to Derek and said, "This isn't right!" I was certain that something had gone wrong and that the worst had happened. All through the pregnancy Derek and I had both felt like it was all very surreal, like I wasn't actually pregnant, despite all the very obvious signs. And then when I was in labor for what seemed like forever but nothing ever progressed, we just felt like we were never going to meet this baby. At this moment I was sure all of those feelings happened because I wasn't ever going to see my baby alive. I was terrified.

But, after an eternity, we heard a baby cry. It was such a relief! Everyone was so happy to have the baby out that no one checked the gender. I finally said over the curtain, "Is it a boy or a girl??" And Dr Tam said, "Oh, I didn't even check.. It's a girl!" Then we heard the pediatrician repeat, "It's a girl!!" I turned my head to Derek, "It's a girl?? It's a girl??" And Derek repeated back. "It's a girl!" And we all had tears in our eyes. Though I obviously would have been happy regardless, I was very much hoping for a daughter to complete our family, it was the perfect happy ending to a very long, scary story!

Camryn Mina Mellott was born at 5:59am on August 28, 2009 via emergency C-Section. She weighed 8lbs 1oz, and was 19.5 inches long. Despite having the cord around her neck, facing up into my pubic bone so much that her nose was flattened into her face at first, and having swallowed amniotic fluid with blood and meconium in it, her apgars were 7 and 9, and she didn't need resuscitation at all. Her entrance into this world was a hard one, for both her and I, but she's here, and she's perfect, and I wouldn't change a thing!

We love you baby girl!!

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