Monday, November 17, 2014

Max's birth story

My little bug is 6 months old today!  I can't believe he's halfway to a year old already!  

Victor and I just can't get enough of this little guy.  He is at such a fun age now.  He loves his solid foods.  He purposefully plays with his toys.  He sits independently.  He loves to grab faces and bang surfaces with his hands.  He has two teeth (second one popped up yesterday!).  He giggles when we play "Ring Around the Rosey," and when Mommy gets dizzy from the spinning, he still giggles when I just sing the song.  He doesn't take me seriously when I say, "I'm gonna get you!" in my scariest voice possible.  He thinks it's hilarious when you pretend to eat his hands.  He's incredibly happy when he wakes up each morning.  And he thinks he's funny when he tries to roll off the changing table.

I can't believe he's already six months old!

In honor of Max's half birthday, I thought I'd share his birth story with you all.  Such a whirlwind of a one ever!


I had big plans for the evening of Friday, May 16.  It was my last day of work before I began my maternity leave, so I was looking forward to celebrating.  Victor was going to Baltimore with his friends to see his favorite comedian, Demetri Martin (my birthday gift to him), so I was going to have the house and TV all to myself.  I was going to have Chipotle for dinner and binge-watch Gossip Girl on Netflix while I attempted to snuggle with Kenny on the couch with my big ol' belly.  I just needed to go to my 38 week check-up after work and then I'd be on my way home.

I wasn't feeling any different than I did at my 37 week appointment, so I wasn't expecting to get exciting news about baby being ready to come.  I thought it was weird when the nurse had to re-pump the blood pressure cuff after she'd already started letting air out (is that what's happening when they do that?) but she didn't say anything about it so I didn't allow myself to worry.  Dr. A came in and asked me how I was feeling while she looked over my chart, then said, "Ooh, looks like I need to send you next door!"

Confused, I gave her a blank stare, to which she responded, "Your blood pressure is high.  138/96.  You'll just need to get your blood and urine tested, and they'll monitor your blood pressure for an hour or two and then make a decision about how to proceed. Dr. G is on call at the hospital, so he'll be the one to decide.  Your blood pressure has been fine the entire pregnancy, so you might just need to be sent home and take it easy until baby comes, but we should check things out to be on the safe side."  As I attempted to maintain my composure, I gathered my things and headed next door to the hospital (in my haste, I ripped a huge hole in the belly panel of my pants as I yanked them on).  It was just after 5 PM.

I called Victor as I moved my car and told him the situation.  I encouraged him to go through with his plans for the evening since it would be a few hours before we knew if anything exciting was going to happen that night.  But, just to be safe, I had him load the hospital bags and the car seat (still not installed) into the car.  I called my mom and my sister and relayed the situation to them.  Cindy, my coworker and good friend, texted to see how the appointment went, so I filled her in too.  I remained calm through all of my conversations and kind of laughed at the situation, but as I checked in with the emergency registrar at the hospital, I was fighting back tears as I quietly went into shock/panic.  What's going to happen tonight?  What if they induce me?  What if something's wrong with the baby?  What if Victor can't make it back in time for whatever may or may not happen tonight?  What am I going to do for the next two hours while I wait it out?

I got up to the Labor and Delivery wing, changed into a gown (which I put on wrong and needed assistance to put on correctly), and climbed into the bed.  They put the blood pressure cuff on me and it now read 154/96...I started to panic a little more.  They drew my blood and took a urine sample and then...I had to wait.  My mother-in-law, Dorabela, and Cindy came to sit with me, and we watched some Seinfeld reruns as we waited for the lab reports.  The charge nurse came in and asked a million questions for paperwork's sake.  Then Dr. G came by around 7:30 PM and told me my labs looked good.  He performed a pelvic exam and told me I was just under 2 cm dilated (up from 1 cm the week before) and about 60% effaced.  He looked at my blood pressure record from the last two hours (the machine was reading my BP every 15 minutes) and said, "Well, even though your labs are good, I'm still concerned about your blood pressure since it's staying high.  You're only 8 days prior to your due date and you're dilated enough to have your water broken, so I'd like to err on the side of caution and go ahead and induce you tonight."

Even though I was not expecting that plan of action, I responded, "Ok, let's get this party started!"  I called Victor, who was on his way to Baltimore with his friends for the comedy show.  "You need to turn around...they're inducing me, " I reported.  After a long pause, Victor responded, "Are you serious?!  You're joking, right?!"  The funny thing is, when I gave Victor the tickets to the show for his birthday back in April, I jokingly told him that the only way he wouldn't be allowed to go is if I was in labor, not even considering that it would actually be a problem.  We decided that he should continue up to Baltimore and see some of the show before he drove back since it would likely be a while before anything happened. Induced labors tend to take a while.

Cindy and Dorabela stayed with me as they got me hooked up to the contraction and baby heart rate monitors.  I started feeling a little crampy as they got my IV hooked up (my veins were not cooperating because I was retaining so much water, so THANKFULLY they called in the anesthesiologist to locally numb my arm as he fished around for a vein...yikes!); turns out my contractions had started on their own before they even broke my water or started a pitocin drip!  I joked that Dr. G must've flipped a switch inside during the pelvic exam to get things moving.  At around 10 PM, they got me started on pitocin and shortly after, Dr. G broke my water.

Victor showed up around 11 PM, and that's when Cindy and Dorabela left for the night.  Dr. G came by one last time before he left for the night to put a wire on the baby's head to monitor his heart rate (they were having a hard time getting consistent readings with the external monitor).  He told me I could get an epidural whenever I wanted and that he'd be back around 6 AM to check on my progress.  I told him that I was going to try to get through labor naturally and asked him whether that was a good idea in my situation.  He said I could do whatever I wanted, but typically in induced labors, the best way to get things moving was to make the mom as comfortable and relaxed as possible to give the cervix a better chance to dilate faster.  He told me that if I decided to get the epidural, all I needed to do was ask the nurse.  I thought the contractions hadn't been too bad so far, so I was pretty determined to make it all the way with no meds.

My nurse for the evening, Dina, came in periodically to check on me and the baby.  She put me on oxygen a few times to stabilize everything and make baby comfortable, and she kept telling me to get some rest, but I had a hard time getting comfortable.  I was doing my best to breathe (and eventually moan) through the contractions, but they were getting very strong thanks to the pitocin.  After learning about all the different labor positions from our childbirth and Lamaze classes, I had hoped to be able to labor out of the bed as much as possible. Unfortunately, hospitals (as opposed to birthing centers) pretty much confine you to the bed to allow for constant fetal monitoring.  I knew being confined to the bed was not going to be ideal, but I had no choice at this point.  I was also afraid to adjust my position much in the bed because of the wire on the baby's head, so I pretty much stayed lying on my side, which got uncomfortable after a while because my bottom leg was going numb.  On top of all that, I was lying in the after-effects of having my water broken, and the "juicy" sensation was getting to be more than I could bear.  I put up with it all for as long as I could before asking for an epidural at 2 AM.  Luckily the anesthesiologist was able to come fairly quickly and got me all set up right away.  Victor had to hide in the bathroom while they got me all settled because he was afraid he was going to pass out after seeing the doctor's tools (I don't blame him, I would've done the same thing.  Luckily I didn't see any of it!).  After I was all taped up, I fell into a sweet slumber for the next 4 hours. 

Dina came in to check on me around 5 AM and told me I was 5 centimeters dilated.  They increased the pitocin to help dilate me fully, but baby's heart rate dropped considerably as a result, so they took me off pitocin completely.  Dr. G came in around 6 AM, as promised, and told me that since they had to turn off the pitocin, it might take a bit longer for baby to arrive.  He had first anticipated that he'd be born between 7 and 9 AM, but now he guessed anywhere from 9AM - 3PM.  He asked me how I was feeling and I told him about some increasing pain on the left side of my abdomen.  He got the anesthesiologist in there right away to adjust my epidural meds and the pain went away fairly quickly.  Meanwhile, my sister, Holly, was preparing to drive out to meet the little guy!

Dr. N, the new doctor on call, came in to check on me around 10 AM.  By that time, I was fully dilated but the baby was still pretty far up the birth canal, so she decided to try to put me back on a low dose of pitocin to bring him down.  Baby continued to be stubborn and his heart rate dropped, yet again, so they took me off pitocin and told me I'd have to wait it out.  Thankfully, the epidural made all of this waiting a breeze!  I felt nothing!


My new nurse, Dolly, came in around 11:15 AM and said, "PLEASE tell me you're getting some urges to push!"  I told her I was, but the urges were at least 10 minutes apart, if not more.  However, within 45 minutes, my urges were very frequent, so they got Dr. N in the room for delivery!

My legs were so heavy and numb from the epidural, so Victor and Dorabela helped hold one leg while Dolly used her body as resistance against my other leg.  For the next hour, I would check the contraction monitor each time I felt an urge to push (to confirm that I was really having a contraction), then bear down and push while Dr. N and Dolly counted to "10" three times, giving me time for a cleansing breath in between each 10-count.  It was hard work, pushing that little nugget out...and luckily I didn't feel any of it!  I pushed for an hour, most of which was dedicated to just getting his head out ("He has red hair Rachel!" Victor announced as he watched me push him out), and then the rest of him slipped out fairly easily afterward.

The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck once, which I didn't know until several minutes after he was born (thankfully); Victor later told me that the baby was as blue as denim when he came all the way out.  Of course, Dr. N was prepared for such an occasion (1/3 of vaginal deliveries involve the cord being wrapped around baby's neck at least once) and clamped, then cut, the cord immediately when she saw what was happening.  Once he started crying, Dr. N placed him on my chest so I could admire the little thing that had been squirming inside my belly for the last 9 months...I was immediately smitten and cried tears of joy!

Max was born at 12:57 PM on Saturday, May 17, 2014, weighing 7 pounds, 8.5 ounces, and measuring 20.5 inches long.  Dr. N announced that Dr. G predicted an average 7.5 pound baby, and he was right on the money!

"Heyyy, where'd my warm hot tub go?!"

Victor watched as they cleaned Max up while Dr. N took care of me.  When the nurses were finished cleaning him up and checking him out, they brought him to me to hold and nurse him.  Victor and I both agreed that the name we had been favoring, Ricardo, didn't seem right for our little redhead, so we were back to the drawing board for names.  Dr. N came over to look at him once she was finished with me and said, "Awww, he looks like a Max!  I'm sorry...I never associate names with the babies I deliver...but he looks like a Max!" Victor and I had to pick our jaws up off the floor because Max was actually the first name we had considered months earlier, but we had abandoned it when we couldn't decide on a longer form of the name.  We both agreed that the name "Max" was meant to be, and we took the next 24 hours to decide on the name Maximiliano Phillip for our new bundle of joy.

Baby burrito


About an hour or two after Max was born, my nurses got me up to use the bathroom and change to prepare for my move to my postpartum room.  And then I hemorrhaged.  I hemorrhaged all over the bathroom floor.  I didn't know what was happening.  In fact, I actually asked, " this supposed to happen?" thinking that it might be normal...right before I got lightheaded and almost passed out.  Thank goodness it happened in the hospital, and thank goodness the nurse was right there.  She called for assistance as she helped me sit down, and the nurses got me cleaned up and back into my delivery bed.  

Dr. N came in and ordered bloodwork, a drip of pitocin (to help my uterus contract and hopefully slow the bleeding), and some IV fluids.  She and the nurses massaged my belly (it sounds pleasant, a belly massage, but it was AGONY!) to encourage the uterus to contract.  They had to put another IV line in, and since my veins were still crap, I had to get a local anesthetic again to get hooked up.  They had to take my blood to make sure my cell counts were good; if they weren't, I could need to receive more blood since I had lost so much.  When the lab tech came a second time to take more blood, I cried...where else was she going to prick me?!  I already had one "blown" vein in one arm, and I had IVs in two others.  She had to go between my knuckles!  I felt like a pin cushion.

 After the hemorrhage...looking and feeling awful

The doctors and nurses think I hemorrhaged due to my bladder being full for too long after having my catheter removed.  I didn't have a sensation to use the bathroom because I was still somewhat numb from the epidural, so my uterus wasn't able to begin contracting since my bladder was so full.  I will be sure to FORCE myself to use the bathroom as soon as I'm able to next time around to hopefully avoid this.  I'd rather not go through that again.

I stayed in the delivery room overnight so the nurses could keep a close eye on me.  I still wasn't allowed to eat in case they needed to do D & C to curtail the bleeding.  I had another catheter put in, and I didn't move from my bed.  Victor had to do all the diaper changes, and he brought Max to me for every feeding.  My arms and wrists hurt so bad from my IVs...they had to put them in some uncomfortable places due to my silly veins.  It was awful.  But my baby was safe and healthy, so I tried to count my blessings.

 On the mend.  Had to get better for this sweet guy.

 On Sunday, they took my blood AGAIN to check my cell counts, and everything looked good.  They wheeled me into a postpartum room, and by mid afternoon, I was off of the pitocin, fluids, and the catheter.  It felt so good to be disconnected from all those machines!  A nurse told me that I would need to try to get up to use the bathroom, and I got really scared.  I felt the tears welling up and my throat tightening, but I tried to remain composed.  The nurse, Victor, and my sister saw right through it and asked me what was wrong.  "What if it happens again?  What if I start bleeding like that?" I said through tears.  The nurse assured me that what happened to me was incredibly rare, and the possibility of it happening again a day later was even more rare.  The nurse helped me to the bathroom, and all went according to plan.

On Sunday night, I got to eat for the first time since lunch on Friday.  I got to shower on Monday for the first time since Friday morning (I was the vision of beauty before that shower.  Ha!).  And Monday afternoon, we headed home with sweet Baby Max.

 Heading home!


Even though I was induced, Max still made his debut within about 16 hours.  Many of my friends who had to be induced endured much longer labors and eventually had to have a c-section.  It makes me wonder if I would've gone into labor that night anyway, especially since my contractions started on their own before my water was broken.

While I had some traumatic events occur during and after giving birth, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.  The end result is completely worth it.  However, I'm a worrier, so next time around I'll probably still worry about my blood pressure spiking, and I'll most likely worry about hemorrhaging afterward.  But it won't scare me enough to not want any more babes.  I loved being pregnant, I'm in awe of the fact that I brought life into this world, and I adore my little blessing more than anything in the world.

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