Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Something's Gotta Give: A Birth Story

If my birth story were a movie, I feel like this name would be most appropriate-- Something's Gotta Give.  But apparently, nothing would give.  What-So-Ever.  Not with Niall and not with Brendan.

I was convinced that Niall's disaster of a birth story was a fluke, considering I was induced and nothing happened.  I figured that my body just wasn't ready and you can't force a baby to come out if he's not ready.  So I chalked it up to the intervention of the OBs, not me.

Now I'm convinced that my body was beautifully designed to carry a baby for 9 months, but not to labor and birth one.  After 2 different natural birth classes that prepared me with as much knowledge and confidence as humanly possible, I now know that there just has to be something wrong with me.  At least that's what I'm telling myself to make myself feel better, so work with me.

With Niall, I went through 40 hours of induced labor and only made it to 2 cm dilated.  With Brendan, I went into natural labor, all on my own (WooHooo!! The part I was the most worried about actually happened!).  I woke up on Wednesday night around midnight (I guess that's technically Thursday) with contractions that were about 30-50 seconds long, 5-8 minutes apart.  This went on until 5am.  What a great sign!  This had to be it.  Matt called in and took off work, my in-laws came over and picked up Niall...  and then it stopped.  No labor for the rest of the day Thursday.

Thursday night/ Friday morning, I woke up at 2am with contractions that were 40-60 seconds long, 4-7 minutes apart.  This had to be it!  Matt called in and took off work... and then nothing happened for the rest of the day Friday.

Until about 7pm.  They started as just a crampy feeling and quickly grew into really painful contractions that were a distinct 3-4 minutes apart, 60-90 seconds long.  This went on for 2 hours and I was gently moaning through the contractions because of the pain.  THIS HAD TO BE IT.  We called the midwife, threw our bags in the car, and drove 20 minutes to the hospital.

Just to make things interesting, as we pulled into the parking lot, it started snowing hard-core.  There was no going home, no turning back.  As I walked into the hospital, I had to throw myself against walls and moan like a wild ape (to my complete humiliation) in the direction the onlookers in the lobby.  THIS WAS IT!!!

The nurse checked me to let the midwife know how far along I was before having her come in.  I couldn't wait to find out if I was 5, 6, maybe even 7 cm at that point.  Was I on the verge of transition??  This felt so different than my labor with Niall.  Things were really happening, I could feel it.

Drum Roll Please....

1 CM

I could feel my face turn white and all my muscles just collapse with disappointment and defeat.  This couldn't be happening again.

My initial plan was to turn around and go home if I was any less than 4 cm, but I didn't anticipate such strange circumstances that would keep me at the hospital...

a) it was really bad weather and we shouldn't have been driving back and forth in it
b) I would have no idea how long I should wait to come back-- I met ALL of the criteria for coming to the hospital:  contractions should be 5-7 minutes apart, 1 minute long, uncomfortable, for a couple of hours.  I was 3-4 minutes apart, 1 1/2 minutes long for 2 hours, moaning with discomfort.  If I went home, how would I know when to come back??

So my midwife suggested I walk around the hospital for a while to get things moving and see if we could get to 3 or 4 so I could be admitted.  She was on her way.

I probably walked around for 2 hours and when she checked me, I was 3 cm.  I saw a lot of hope in this, because I was 1 cm farther along than I ever made it with Niall.  It seemed like things were moving along and this was actually gonna work.

But 15 hours from the start of my intense, 3-4 minutes apart contractions, I was only at 4 cm.  I was exhausted from not sleeping the previous 2 nights (being kept up with false labor) and in serious pain for more hours than most people do their entire labor, pushing and birthing- only to find out I wasn't even half way to the finish line.

I opted for the epidural at that point and was finally able to rest, which I felt really good about.  But I also knew that the epidural would likely slow down my labor.  This led to my midwife eventually breaking my water, which also got the clock ticking in terms of potential infection.  7 hours later, I was only at 6 cm and my epidural wore off.  My contractions were ON TOP of each other and so painful that my moaning turned into this horror movie- style gyrating yelling.

I was seriously terrified because I knew that I still had hours to go until I got to 10 cm, a good 2 hours of pushing (average for first timers), and could absolutely not get through this without the epidural.  In the 20 seconds or so between each agonizing contraction, I would try to catch my breath and hold it together because they were now so intense that little Brendan's heart rate was severely decelerating with each and every one.

I could hear the beeping of the monitor slowing down to a seriously scary pace and my heart would just pound out of my chest because I knew that even though there was a good chance it was just the baby squeezing down, there was also a good chance that this was a sign of uterine rupture (the most common concern for VBACers).  My midwife was slightly concerned, but not convinced there was an emergency yet at that point... we were running up against some time constraints in the coming hours, but we still had some time.  But I just didn't want to risk anything anymore.  We had a conversation about the risks of uterine rupture and I was officially scared. 

I'm a worry wort as any of you who know me can vouch for, so I knew there would be no getting that out of my mind for the remainder of this birth.  If I had a potential 4,5, maybe even 6 more hours... that "uterine rupture" was going to be racing through my mind for the remainder of this journey.  We decided to call it.

I cried and moaned through the contractions while I waited for the doctor and anesthesiologist to come in for me.  I sobbed to Matt, asking him what was wrong with me.  I sobbed to myself, asking God what was wrong with me.  I thought about how my plans for having 5 kids were going to be shattered.  How I would be lucky to have 3-- it's scary to even think about having another c-section, so I won't let my mind go there yet.  But Matt reminded me of how blessed we are and how many people try to get pregnant and aren't able to have children, and I know he's right.  It's just hard when you have this dream and things suddenly change.

Anyway, I couldn't be happier about switching hospitals and switching to the midwives.  The care that I received this time compared to my experience with Niall was like night and day.  The midwife held my hand pretty much through the whole thing and told me what a great job I did and how we really gave it our best shot and there was nothing to be ashamed of.

And when Brendan came out, she took that baby away from the doctors so fast, I barely blinked and she had placed him on my chest and held him there for me since I couldn't move my arms.  All of the nurses and hospital staff went out of their way to make sure Brendan stayed with me as much as possible- through all of the tests, baths, shots and procedures.  I basically held him and they did everything with him right there in my lap.  They helped me with nursing, they helped me with questions I had, questions I didn't even think of and they were so attentive and responsive.  I will definitely be going back there for the next (and probably last) baby. 

Here's the freaky part of all of this-- after feeling like such a complete failure through my 2 botched births, my midwife came in to my recovery room a few hours later and said "I'm not sure if this will help you emotionally or not, but I feel like I should tell you that the doctor said your scar was shockingly thin... I'm not going to say it would or wouldn't have ruptured, but it looks like you probably did the right thing."  And I'll never know what would have happened, but I do feel better knowing that.

I just wanted to experience a normal, natural birth; a normal, easy recovery; and have the option of having as many kids as I want.  My recovery will certainly not be easy with a baby and a 2 year-old, but life constantly throws you curve balls and it's how you handle them that shapes you.  I'm finally at ease with the way things went down.  I have 2 happy, healthy kids and no complications with my own recovery, so I couldn't ask for more. I can't wait to see what's in store for our little family in the future.

Welcome to the world, Baby Brendan!!

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  1. i've been dying for more pics AND the birth story. im so sorry it didn't go down like you wanted dude. i guess it rarely does even if you plan and do everything right. you did everything you could to have the birth you wanted. p came out my vag and i had/have major issues with how all that went down, too. and i hated the doctors for the piece of shit episiotomy and pain for MONTHS down there (and still things are not back to normal... i won't go into detail on your blog.) you got two babies out of your body and that is just so so amazing. can't wait to meet him. i bet niall is so excited to have a little bro. so glad everyone is doing great. <3 <3 <3

  2. Your family is so beautiful! I'm so sorry to hear that you didn't have the birth for which you were hoping, but am very glad that you didn't have a rupture or complications! I think our boys are about the same ages apart - which is making for many adventures :) Can't wait to hear about yours! Congratulations... and he does look like Niall already!

  3. aw, kerry i was almost crying reading this. like sarah, i am so sorry that the birth didn't go as you had hoped. i could tell how excited and ready you were for that vaginal birth. and i KNOW everyone is telling you you have two healthy children and you should be happy, and that's true. you are a mama even if you didn't birth the babies in the way nature intended! you have a battle scar to prove it; i remember always thinking my mom's c-section scars (yes, scars. my sister and i were both c-sections) were pretty, like silverfish. but i'm getting off track. anyway congratulations on another beautiful son and don't give up the dream on your 5 mini mccolloughs just yet! you didn't know that this 2nd csection would be in store for you, so you don't know what great things may still happen for your family.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story, hopefully you can cut yourself some slack knowing that you did everything you could do direct your birth experience and some things are just out of our hands. My second c-section was very similar to yours in that my doctor notified me my scar was actually open when they went in to operate. It's scary to think what might have been in these situations. I'm glad you both came out healthy and I hope your recovery goes well. My second time around was actually easier, even with a toddler included. Good luck!

  5. Kerry-You are the bravest person I know. What's important is that you kept your safety in mind so you are able to continute being an amazing mom to Niall and now share your capabilities with Brendan-the two luckiest boys in the world.

  6. Wow, what a story! So glad everything turned out well and your new little man is here safe and sound (who, by the way, looks so much like Niall!). And that pic of you and your 2 little guys? You look amazing!

  7. wow, what an amazing story! you definitely did what was best for both you & brendan & no one can ever say you didn't give it your all. he is such a perfect little boy & seeing niall holding him in that last picture makes me all misty eyed!!

  8. Wow Kerry. You are so strong. Aah I cant imagine. Congratulations on baby number 2!!!

  9. oh, i finally came back to read this. you did SUCH a good job!! i wonder if he was posterior? did they tell you? yours sounds very much like mine actually. i was in on and off labor for a week. it was SO exhausting. by the time i was in labor on the day i delivered i was already so wiped. :( my contractions were ON TOP of each other and i was sure i must be like 8 or 9. i got to six with levi and these contractions were MUCH worse. they couldn't do an internal since my water had already broken so they used a scalpel and "estimated" i was at 4. i felt so defeated! i had seriously thought i was really close to transition since my labor was waaaaay worse then with levi when i was at 6. so yeah, sounds a lot like some of the things you went through so i really wonder if he was posterior too!?? anyway... it sounds like you made the best decision given your circumstances. you did such a good job!! and look how perfect he is!!!

  10. Kerry,
    As a doula and as a fellow birthing mother, you ABSOLUTELY should feel nothing but pride for your decision. We teach in labor and birthing that no matter WHAT happens, if You and your partner make the decisions then you'll ALWAYS make the right one for you and you did! Thank goodness we have options for cesarian when we need them! You gave birth, and that is the most amazing thing that anyone can do! I am beyond proud of you after reading this birth story and know that you set yourself up for such an amazing and loving experience, and you DID have that! Midwives are THE BEST! You had such an advocate on your side:) Thank you for sharing this amazing story and you have no idea the inspiration it will give to many. Best of luck to you, and I hope all our boys can meet one day:)


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