Monday, August 22, 2011

All Good and Perfect Gifts...Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

Nothing was happening. And I mean nothing.
Baby still wasn't moving, his heart rate kept decreasing with contractions (not alarmingly like Colin had but enough for concern) I hadn't gone past a 4 in 5 hours of strong regular contractions.
My lovely OB came in. "I know what you want, I am with you, but just in case let me see when the OR is open, I want to be ready just in case."
Surprisingly, this didn't make me defensive, or angry or panicked. I just said "all right. Let us know."
Luke looked at me with surprise. I had fought tooth and nail for a VBAC and now I was rolling over and accepting the possibility for a c-section. Dr. D left the room and I turned to my husband, I held his hand, he stroked my cheek. He kissed my head.
Dr. D came back in, we all looked at one another. "Well there is an open OR in 15 minutes or there is one available at 3 this afternoon. I can go back and reserve the room at 3 so we can do this the way you want!" She sort of trailed off and looked at me. I looked at Luke.
"No, let's go in 15 minutes, this is not going to happen the way I wanted."
It was like I wasn't even talking, I felt totally peaceful, totally at ease with giving up my dream scenario.
Dr. D let out a wooshing breath "oh thank goodness, I wanted to go in now, I just have a feeling we are going to need to be there."
Luke squeezed my hand "me too, lets do this."
Somehow without saying anything to one another we all had agreed that a c-section was our best option.
I called my mom and let her know to head down to the hospital. (It was her birthday!) She would get there in time for me to be out of surgery.
Going into the OR was a totally different experience this time.
I joked with the orderlies and nurses as they got me ready. Dr. D and the nurses and doctors talked about the Superbowl party she had that last weekend, with Luke asking about the food. My anesthesiologist went out of his way to make me comfortable, explaining to me why it was so bloody cold in there, and giving me focusing techniques for when they started.
"Let's start the clock!" Dr. D said brightly.
On the wall a digital clock started a countdown.
I felt nothing as she began the incisions, I was a little anxious but Luke was whispering to me and making me smile.
And all of a sudden, we were the only two people talking.

"Oh my God, her uterus ruptured." there was real fear in my doctor's voice. Flat out bone chilling fear. My heart stopped.

Everything began to move at an incredibly rapid pace.
I knew the score, if my uterus had ruptured the wrong way I could be bleeding out right now, depending on when it had happened the baby could have breached the uterine wall and could be dead.
I was trying to keep it together, I didn't want to be put under like last time but I was crying as the incredible pressure of getting the baby out descended on my abdomen. I could barely breathe.
Luke and the anesthesiologist were talking softly to me, trying to keep me calm and focused. Luke kept rubbing my temples, I could barely hear him but I am almost certain he was praying. The anesthesiologist made me keep telling him how i was feeling, what I needed, he would tell me the time periodically.

After what seemed like hours, but was mere moments in reality, I heard the shout. I heard him yell to the heavens, angry to be out. I grinned, I knew that whatever happened next, my son was here and whole and with us. I couldn't see him, I certainly couldn't hold him, but a great wave of love and relief washed over me. I felt nothing but overwhelming gratitude and blazing love for this tiny soul who had sent me a message: "Mama, come and get me, come and get me now"

I endured the wait while they sewed me back together. I barely remember what happened. The medicine they had used to stop contractions made me shake, I was cold. I was alive. Baby was alive. We were together. That's all that mattered.

Slowly we made our way back to the room, I tried to nurse and surprisingly got a latch, though nothing came out, not even colostrum. The toll of a stressful birth is the delay of your milk coming in. So once again, my kids first meal outside my body was formula. His dad got to feed him. And I was just fine with that.

My milk came in finally at the end of my long hospital stay. I had a blood transfusion, it took me a while to come back to myself. But 6 days after we went in, we got ready to leave. Our little family was complete.

Later, on the day Z was born, when my doctor came in to see me, we learned that after Dr. D had gotten through the layers of muscle and fat, Ezekiel's hand and arm were reaching up and out of the reopened scar of my first c-section. He had totally breached the wall of the uterus, the old scar had undergone a catastrophic dehiscence and he was making his escape. We joked about our "teeny Houdini", and tried to keep the mood light, I had lost less blood with a complete uterine rupture than another woman had in a regular c-section down the hall! Then Dr. D looked at me, any trace of joking gone from her face "when i saw his little hand sticking out, that's when I started to pray. I am so glad you're both here and you're both fine."

Writing about the birth of my second, and last, baby was a long process. It took me 6 months to work through my emotions. So much could have gone wrong, so much could have gone horribly wrong and when I thought about it, it made me broke out in a cold sweat. And still I felt guilty about "giving in" to another c-section. The natural birthing community I feel so strongly attached to (despite my "unnatural" births) feels that my c-sections were mistakes, were part of a medical community that views laboring mothers as paychecks that take to long to finish, that given the right conditions, if I had just stood up for myself I could have had the labor and delivery I dreamed of. And yet both c-sections saved my life, saved my babies lives.
I felt very conflicted about this.
And after 6 months of praying, of processing, I came to the conclusion that I shared at the beginning of my story. That we feel so out of control, our only natural impulse is to control everything we can. And yet, and yet, it is only in letting go of everything, in giving up any and all little bits of control, whatever shape that release may take, it is only then that there is enough room for that huge love to take over. To overwhelm us. To set us blazing with love for that new soul just arrived.

I titled this "All good and perfect gifts..." because I know without a doubt that is was God who helped me arrive at the place of peace. That it was God who stretched me bigger than myself and helped me let go of the control. It was God that had His hand in the final outcome and the outcome was so perfect, so good, such a blessing. I thank my God for that incredible gift.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

All Good and Perfect Gifts...Part 2

The Birth of Ezekiel Ryan (Part One)...

I should pause here and tell you that I assumed I would be sent home this night. I called my mother in law because we had to drop off Colin, I called my doula but told her to stay home unless I called and told her we were admitted and I called my mom because when you're in back labor and it hurts like a sonofabitch you want your mama a little bit. But I was certain, despite the regular contractions, that I would peter out to nothing like the 2 other times this had happened and I would be sent home. I was SURE of it. Sort of. I thought this crazy pain just might be doing something.
We arrived at the hospital and are taken to a triage room. At this point I am having insane back labor and my contractions have been 3 minutes apart for almost an hour. I have been contracting regularly for at least 2 hours. Nothing much in the grand scheme of things but with a previous c-section doctors prefer to monitor strong contractions, even low intervention doctors like my dreamy OB, the risk of rupture is enough that they like you to go in when the contractions get regular and strong so they can monitor you. I was not thrilled about getting hooked up to monitors but the nurse said it sounded like I was laboring pretty good and wanted to do an internal exam to see how far I had progressed.
Now if you have been a woman in labor you know that the internal exam WHILE you are contracting is the worst pain. It is ALWAYS awkward, it ALWAYS takes to long, and it ALWAYS ALWAYS makes the next contractions 3 times worse. I was at an 9 on the pain scale. The lovely, excited for me nurse does the exam, I fully expect her to tell me 3 centimeters...her face falls a little, she recovers and makes her features impassive. "Weeellll, you're at almost 1 centimeter."
My mouth drops open.
And promptly slams shut because I was hit with a massive wall of pain.
I hadn't progressed. At all.
Zero progression.
-I'm sure most veteran mom's would say "oh honey only 3 hours of labor (we waited a while)? oh that's nothing" But my fabulous marvelous doula had said to me a few weeks earlier: "Meg, your pain is yours. This isn't a competition. If your pain is a 10 on the scale, then treat it like a 10 and stop thinking 'A stronger person, a better person would only call this an 8' because that's some crap." And so I say to those veteran mom's: suck it. -
I bit my lip to keep from wailing as the tears streamed down my face. The nurse politely excused herself to call my doctor. No progression? They were going to send me home. I was in this crushing pain and all I could do was go home and fill up my tub and wait for something to happen. I wept. I cursed. I told Luke he better fight for them to do something, ANYTHING. I didn't know what but he needed to FIX IT. (I was at a 9 on the pain scale, coherent thought was not topping my list of priorities.)
There was a knock at the door and I pulled myself together. I pride myself on keeping it together-ish in front of strangers, even as I have back labor and am contracting 3 minutes apart. "Do you want an epidural?" The nurse asked brightly.
"Excuse me?"
"Dr. Deka is admitting you so we can keep an eye on you, your contractions are strong and regular and you were a previous C-section so... did you want an epidural? because we have to push fluids for a while if you do."
My mouth dropped open again. Bless that woman. "yes. please." (yes, I got the drugs. I have no problem with the drugs, and my 4 year old seems to be just fine, dandy and attached to me despite my insistence on the drugs during his birth)
"okey doke! Let's get you over to your room, it'll be just a minute."
Time ceases to flow naturally. I am still contracting, I am still at 1 centimeter, but none of that matters because I am getting admitted! That means I will totally have a baby in the next day or so! (I am always a realist, I know labor takes a BUTTLOAD of time) In this in between time, I call my doula, my mom, and my mother in law. I tell my mom and mom in law to stay home, nothing would be happening for a while, I tell my doula to come on down even though I am having the epidural.
We are arranged in a birthing suite. It is roomy and quiet. Dim, we realize we forgot our music at home.
The anesthesiologist arrives and starts my drip, easiest needle to the spine I ever got. My doula arrives mere seconds after that and reminds me to stay on top off the pain, she reminds me once again to rest, to gather my strength. So I do, fitfully, hearing the buzz and bipp of machines, the shwowwowwow of baby's heart, Tammy and Luke chatted quietly, nurses checked in every now and then.
Time passed. Nothing much at all happened. It was peaceful.
To peaceful.
My main nurse came in with a little buzzing wand. "Baby is not moving much and we just want to see if we can get him to move around and get things going"
She pushed the buzzy wand to my abdomen around the same time as a contraction. Baby's heart rate jumped and then plummeted.
"hmmm" she tried again. Again the jump and the dramatic drop.
I'd seen this with Colin, I started to get a little agitated.
"Don't worry, let's check you and see if relaxing with the epidural helped move things along any"
I can't for the life of me remember where I was, 3? 4? I had progressed but the contractions were still incredibly strong and baby still wasn't moving and his heart rate kept dropping.
My OB walked in. "Hi! I think if we rupture the bag of waters things will really start to get going! I also want to put you on an internal monitor. You're doing great but baby is being dramatic, I want to keep a close eye on him!"
I smiled, I looked at my doula "I think it's a great option, but remember that once the bag is ruptured they are going to put you on a timeline. With the drop in heart rate the internal monitor will let them keep a closer watch on Ziggy (Z's nickname in utero) and you're dealing with wires already. It's fairly invasive but I trust Dr. Deka."
"Let's do it" After some sleep I was feeling good, feeling confident.
A guy came in to use the crochet hook on me, I couldn't tell you who he was I was just excited to be experiencing feeling my water break! (An emergency c-section after a week in active labor with no progression doesn't allow for water breaking) Laboring like a real girl! WOOO!
This next bit probably took all of a couple of minutes but it felt like an hour:
They ask me to move my butt down a little and spread em.
With the epidural this is difficult but do-able
As the doctor ruptures the bag, I have a huge contraction and feel the water go everywhere.
The baby's heartrate bottoms out.
My heart stops for a second.
Baby's heartbeat stays low.
They insert an internal monitor, everyone is calm, telling me that he probably just shifted.
Baby's heartbeat stays low.
I am starting to freak out.
The nurse asks me to get on my hands and knees "to try and move baby out of the distress position"
And so with strength borne of panic for my son I haul my half numbed ass up and over on to all fours.
bippbippbipp went the machine, showowwowwow went the heart.
Baby's heart beat goes back to normal.
I stay on all fours for a little while, it feels surreal, like I am resting on someone else's knees but I am willing to endure the insanity of it to hear those wooshy beats.
A nurse comes in and helps me get back into a more comfortable position, baby has stabilized and everything seems to be going back to normal.
Contractions still strong. I am on a timeline now but still not progressing. Stalled at 4. Baby's heart keeps periodically dipping low, something is wrong but not wrong enough to make alarms go off like last time. I am not panicking but I am praying for guidance, and it keeps coming to me that I am going to have another c-section. Somehow, in my mind I feel peaceful about this. From somewhere comes the message that I am not meant to have my babies like everyone else, and that's okay.
It's 7 am.

Last bit coming tomorrow!

Summer from the cell phone

cuddles, DMV visits, reading with CiCi, giggles, scooters, first taste of avocado and peas and soybeans and bananas (LOVES THEM ALL), preschool homeschool, love, ice cream and long road's been bliss.

Away We Went

Annual Taylor August Adventure...this year there was a lot of creek swims, Lego builds, hikes with baby on back, and relaxing with friends. It was marvelous.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

that time of year...

We are a couple of months away from my favorite short lived season (at least here in AZ) - FALL! Glorious fall! The perfect weather lasts for all of a month or so and then it gets cold. But while it's here, oh marvelous time of year!
This year fall is going to be a little different as I am beginning to homeschool Colin. It's just preschool, he'll be joining the rank and file of public school kindergarteners next year, but he is terrifically excited and I am overwhelmed! In keeping with my fairly laid back parenting style, I asked him if there were specific things he wanted to "study" at "school" and in keeping with his interests of late he responded: "dinosaurs, robots, superheros, and making sheens (machines)" Who can argue with that?! So I have found enough curriculum with those themes in mind (and others!) to fill 3 months! whew!
It will mostly be doing art and reading books, much like we do now, but with a little more rigid schedule...more than reading, more than counting by 5's, more than any of that, I'd like my ball of energy to be able to sit still and listen for 10 minutes! This will be the biggest hurdle of all!
Do you have fond memories of autumn?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Good and Perfect Gifts...6 months later, The Birth of Ezekiel Ryan

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..." James 1:17

So much of my labor and delivery this time around was different. And not just because, clearly, it was my second go at it, not just because because I felt more confident, more educated, more sure of myself. So much was different because I finally learned what I was supposed to from the experience: we make our labor and delivery so much about us, we mothers. We focus on what I want, what I need, how I feel, what I do...and who can blame us? In a situation so entirely out of our control, so ripe with uncertainty and risk, making a plan for how to have a baby is something we can be sure of, something we can cling to and when it doesn't go our way it gives us something to blame, something tangible to be angry and disappointed about. The lesson I learned from the birth of my second baby: there is no controlling life. There is no "the way I want to do this" when that new soul comes screaming from your womb...and like it or not, we can't make it all about mama, cause baby needs us to think only of him. With every breath, with every heartbeat, baby has only us, mama, to give every little thing he needs...and to give it joyfully and without reservation, even if it means giving up our "perfect birth".

I was 4 days late. Like his elder brother, Z was clinging to the walls of my uterus with tenacity. Wretched.
Rewind a few months: Because I was a previous C-section trying for a VBAC my dreamy OB said: no induction. no way. Pitocin causes contractions to become to dangerous. Again and again we cited the "tiny miniscule" percentage of people who have uterine ruptures while attempting a VBAC. My doctor didn't want anything to cause unnecessary risk, she was on board with having a natural vaginal birth. Ooooh Boy was I thrilled. I would be monitored in the hospital because of my previous complications (again that previa last time around was completely missed) but everyone agreed to respect that I wanted a low intervention birth, I had a fabulous doula who had my back and was ready to fight fiercely for me...
So fastforward back to where we started, rotten kiddo was hanging in, and hanging in good. I was super miserable, baby was posterior and somehow causing pelvic pain so severe I couldn't walk without the aid of pain medication. WHAT A TREAT!
THe Birdie slept at his Nana's house Saturday night, my mom and stepdad love having him overnight and since Sunday was the first day of Luke's paternity leave (did I MENTION I was 4 days past due?) we thought it would be a good chance to try "kickstarting things" (if you know what I mean? wink wink). It didn't work because Sunday morning found me on my way to church.
Yes I was supposed to have a baby any moment, but since my husband works for our church I almost never get to sit with him so I wasn't about to squander the chance to worship with him! It was also a baptism Sunday, and at our church that's a fun day. Everyone gathers between services in the amphitheater where our baptismal pool is and we cheer everytime someone comes up from the water gasping and grinning. It was a nice distraction from my ceaseless pain and exhaustion.
Luke and I enjoyed the service, though I couldn't tell you what we studied. My doula was there and whispered to the baby through my belly. "Come out little one! We can't wait to meet you!" She reminded me again that she had her cell phone, to be patient, to rest and enjoy Colin. She's an amazing doula.
We climbed in the car and drove to downtown Phoenix to have a delicious breakfast at lovely little restaurant called Local Breeze.I ate a perfect omelet and hash browns, i remember this because it was the last real meal I ate that day. It was divine. We packed up our leftovers, kissed my mom and stepdad and went home for a nap.
The rest of my day was a blur of a lot of the same. Watched a movie, napped, smooched on Colin. I got antsy around 7:30 or 8 and put out a call on Facebook for walking partners. My darling friend Amy (who is training to be a midwife!) came to Target to pick up a few last minute snacky things and books for the hospital bag, we filled the gas tank, did some laps around the big box store, she applied counterpressure to my back and swayed with me when I had a couple of big contractions in the home goods aisle.
I went home disappointed that my water hadn't broken, that the laps hadn't inspired more regular contractions. It was around 9:30 and I had another big strong stop me in my tracks contraction before I wearily climbed into bed next to my already snoozing kiddo and sleepy husband.
I slept.
I dreamt of the color red and the sound of lightening. It was a clear night.
3 hours go by.
I woke up with my back arching against the pain of a contraction.
It faded in that throbbing way contractions have.
5 minutes. Deep boiling pain in my lower back and pelvis. I bit my lips.
5 minutes. Arching against the pain didn't help, hunching with it didn't help.
5 minutes. Child's pose and deep breathing with the pain this time. Takes the edge off but it continues.
5 minutes. I cry out this time. My kid and my husband don't even stir.
5 minutes. Child's pose has ceased to take the edge off, my breathing is shallowing out. I am moaning now. I need Luke to help me focus.
"Babe. Babe. Luke. LUKE!"
5 minutes. Luke groggily shakes himself awake.
He times me. I snap that I've been at it for a half hour. Deep strong pain, my back feels like someone is trying to wrench apart my spine with dull pliers.
5 minutes. 5 minutes. 5 minutes. 5 minutes. 5 minutes. An hour has passed since the wretched gnome with the dull pliers climbed into my lower back and decided to clumsily dismantle it. We make the executive decision to pack up, call my mother in law (who lives 5 minutes from the hospital) and head in.
Every 5 minutes, and then 3 minutes I have to stop, moan loudly, pray loudly, breathe deeply, cry out.
Colin sleeps through it all, even through the transfer to his car seat. Amazing.
I call my mother and between shouts I tell her we are on our way in. I call my doula and tell we're headed in. I call my mother in law and tell her we are headed to her house.
3 minutes apart.

To Be Continued!

Friday, August 5, 2011

August 2011...morning.

Colin Jacob is almost 4 and a half. He is smart and funny and filled with life. He loves any movie about superheros. He builds amazing creations out of legos and string and bits and bobs (just like his father). He slept the whole night last night in underwear and stayed totally dry. He loves the water but cannot yet swim. I call him Bubs, and Buddy B and Birdie, my little bird. He eats only certain foods: miso soup with tofu and rice, peanut butter and honey sandwhiches, cereal. He loves his baby brother and will bring him toys to play with if he is crying, will bring me diapers when I need them, will kiss him and whisper: "I gotcha, I gotcha". He will not drink milk unless it has been laced with chocolate. He can count to 20 and recognize the letters of his name. He sings songs about God that make my heart soar. He is, in a word, marvelous.

Ezekiel Ryan is less easy now that he can army crawl and wants to eat everything he sees on the ground. We contain him for short bursts in this brightly colored plastic monstrosity that he loves and so we give it a place of honor in the middle of the living room. He loves avocado but not enough to stop nursing all the time. I call him baby, and Z and Tiny and Buggy, my little bug. He babbles and coos to himself non-stop, including the early "mamamamaaa" that makes my heart smile, though I know it is just noise. Precious noise. He loves chewing on fabric, we put him to bed and he curls around his blanket, wrapping his thumb in the cloth and sucking. e put him to bed awake and 7 minutes later he is asleep, my mind reels that it is that easy. He adores his big brother, giggles and grins whenever Colin comes in his line of vision. He is, in a word, lovely.

I am, in a phrase, the luckiest.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

after the hiatus...

(image taken from my car, on the HUGE storm that rolled through last summer and trashed everything)

Tonight I sat on the steps leading up to our little apartment (did I mention we've moved? It added to the length of the break methinks) and watched the rain pour down and the wind whip the trees and lightning flash purpley was a perfect Arizona monsoon. And I decided to end my long bloggy silence.
Not just because a good solid rainshower washed the cobwebs out of my brain.
Or because we just returned from our annual vacation up to the cool north of our lovely state.
Or because my beloved poppa in law mentioned he was thirsty for news and pictures of us, being so far away in Michigan and I can't deny him anything because I adore him so.
It was all of those things.
So there is a snippet of my day: I sat in the evening and enjoyed the rumble and patter of a summer rainstorm.

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