As the old adage goes, it’s better late than never.
For the last few weeks I have been wanting to record Ari’s birth story like I did with my three other kids. However, finding the time to accomplish this task, while I am not overly tired, is like trying to find a needle in a haystack … a GIANT haystack. At least Ari isn’t too old yet. He just turned one month old yesterday, the 29th of May.
So, here it goes … [Warning - this is a LONG post! I'll be impressed if you read through the whole thing !]
While I was at church and attending to my duties in Primary on Sunday morning April 17th, I started getting some mild to moderate cramps. I didn’t think much of them, especially since within the hour the pain had subsided, but shortly thereafter I realized I lost part of my mucous plug.
Talk about being in disbelief?!
Right after my discovery, I let Rudy know that he needed to be on call just in case I actually went into labor soon. At this point he was getting ready to walk out the door to go fulfill his high council speaking assignment.
Since I have high risk pregnancies [mainly due to having antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, a disorder where I have to give myself daily lovenox or heparin injections], I have always had medical inductions. However, I have always wondered what it would be like to go into labor on my own. I started thinking that maybe this time around I might get to experience that part of the birthing process.
At my next appointment with my perinatologist on Tuesday April 19th, my doctor decided to do an internal exam to see where things were. At my previous appointment the week before when I was 36 1/2 weeks, I had only been dilated to about a fingertip/one centimeter. However, now I was at a solid 3, 65% effaced and the baby was at a -2 station. He had also dropped enough that my doctor could even feel the hair on his head.
Holy smokes!? I had never been this far dilated until I had been on Pitocin for quite a few hours. This was promising news that this labor and delivery might not be overly difficult. After all, the longest part of my previous labors have been when my cervix was effacing and trying to get past 3 centimeters.
My doctor then exclaimed that she wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t make it to my induction date, let alone my next doctor’s appointment scheduled for the following week. When put that way, it made me a bit nervous because I wasn’t quite ready for our little one to come. My sister who was coming to town to help still had college finals to take and I still hadn’t even packed my hospital bag!
Needless to say, despite the many mild contractions and other pains I endured over the next 10 days, my body did not kick into labor on its own. But I was fine with that. It was enough for me just wondering whether or not something was going to happen.
The night before my induction, I naturally did not sleep well because of all the anticipation coursing through my body. I was also feeling quite a bit of anxiety, probably the most anxiety I had ever felt before giving birth. I chalk it up to the fact that since this was my fourth I knew what to expect and what I was getting myself into .
The early morning of Friday April 29th arrived [early as in 6 am early] and I was eagerly awaiting the phone call from the hospital telling us to come in. I tried to rest some while waiting, but that didn’t work.
We got Keri and Cory up and completely ready for school and we were still waiting for the phone to ring. I was starting to wonder if the hospital was too busy and that we were going to have to wait until Monday to be induced since the hospital does not do weekend inductions. The thought of that terrified me! However, as the kids were about to walk out the door to go to their bus stop at about 8:30 am, the phone call finally came. The hospital staff told us to come in as soon we we got the kids off to school.
With my previous three births, I have never tested positive for Group B Strep. However, this time around I did, so when we got to the hospital at about 9:30 in the morning, instead of heading right to a labor and delivery room, I had to go to the triage nurses station to get some antibiotics in my system.
Since the hospital had called us in, we figured the induction would start pretty quickly. After all, they wouldn’t have called us if they were super busy. Boy were we wrong.
Even though the hospital wasn’t busy when they initially called us, once we were there it seemed like the whole city went into labor. They had at least two different rooms all prepped for us and in both cases, right before they were going to take me to them, women came into the hospital in active labor and once again we were left to wait in our small, yet private, triage room.
Eventually the sweet and kind nurses told us to go grab a bite to eat since lunch time was rolling around. Rudy and I headed to a deli within walking distance of the hospital [you should have seen some of the glances people gave me ... a 9 month pregnant lady strolling around with a heplock/IV port in her arm!] and then stopped at the local Starbucks so I could have some yummy and comforting hot chocolate.
After we slowly meandered back to the triage station, we relaxed and waited some more. Around 2:30 in the afternoon we were about to go out for another short stroll when one of the main nurses in charge of the labor and delivery floor took pity on us and finally assigned us a room. It was the smallest room they had, I think it was an extra overflow room that they normally don’t use, but after having waited 5 hours for the induction to start I was happy with whatever they had to offer. At this point, though, I wondered if our little guy was going to be born on Friday April 29th or if he was going to make his arrival on Saturday April 30th.
About 3:15 pm the Pitocin drip was finally started. They then had me order some “food” from the clear liquid diet menu. Chicken broth, apple juice and gummy bears were the only things that sounded halfway decent.
I then got up and walked some laps around the halls near our room with Rudy and one of our two doulas for about 30 minutes. It was easy to walk and chat so I thought I wasn’t having any contractions. I was surprised when we got back to my room and found out that I had been having pretty regular contractions during that time frame. However, when they checked me, I was still at a 3 and 65% effaced … what I had been at for the last 10 days. To speed things up, the doctor and the resident she was working with [and both of them were AMAZING doctors with excellent bed side manners. I have never met such a remarkable resident!] decided to break my bag of water at about 4:55 in the afternoon.
Between 5:15 and 5:30 pm my contractions really started to pick up in intensity. Being on Pitocin truly brings on monstrous and painful contractions. I began debating if and when I wanted to get an epidural. When my body started getting the shakes from the Pitocin and I could tell I was having a tough time relaxing to allow the contractions to do what they needed to do, I decided to go ahead and get the epidural. I made that decision at 6:20 and by 6:35 the epidural was in and working its magic.
About an hour later, my resident doctor came to check on my progress. At 7:40 she let us know I was now dilated to a 7, 100% effaced and the baby was at a -1 station. I was so relieved to hear how well things were moving along. It also reassured me that I had indeed made the right decision to get the epidural because my body was finally able to relax and do its thing.
When transition labor started, even though I had an epidural in, I could tell the contractions were getting longer, stronger and closer together. I actually had to focus on breathing through my contractions. I was surprised at how much I could still “feel” with the medication I was on. My nurse let me know that within the last couple of years, anesthesiologists were giving lighter doses of medication with the epidural so women could still have some feeling when it came time to push. I was actually pleased to hear this because I wanted to experience more of the hard physical aspects of labor and delivery as long as my body was still able to stay relaxed enough to do so.
Relatively soon I was able to feel my little one descending down the birth canal. The urge to push was getting stronger, though since I had the epidural, I was still able to let my body’s contractions do most of the work before I actively started pushing. At 9:45 when they checked me again I was complete. Hallelujah!
I started pushing in a side laying position a little after 10 pm. I pushed for 13 minutes and through 6 contractions. At 10:17 pm on Friday April 29th Ari was born. Both of his apgar scores were 9.
Within seconds I was holding my sweet and miraculous newborn. I couldn’t believe that one minute I was a mother of three and then the very next minute I was a mother of four. Going through the birthing process truly is a sacred experience. I was so grateful that Ari had arrived and joined our family, our family of six.
Ari weighed in at 9 lbs 5.5 ounces and was 21 inches long. Before we had him measured, the doctors [both my perinatologist and the resident] were impressed with how big and “solid” he was. I was a little surprised because it didn’t seem much different than my delivery with Eli who was 8 lbs 3 ounces.
I was even more shocked to find out that I had delivered him posterior [face up] because I didn’t have any excruciating back labor like I did with Keri who was also a posterior baby. Thankfully I only got a second degree tear with Ari. I also learned that when delivering a child who is posterior, it is as though you are delivering a baby that weighs a pound more. WOW! Miraculously my tear didn’t end up bothering me much during the recovery period. It was more my bruised tail bone and my sore epidural site which were a bit uncomfortable.
Of my four labor and deliveries, this by far went the most smoothly. It was also the shortest in length. It only lasted 7 hours which is quite decent for a one week early medical induction. My doctors, nurses and doulas were beyond outstanding. All of their personalities meshed perfectly with mine. [I even loved the placenta tour my doctor gave me after it was delivered - talk about fascinating! It was incredible to see the amniotic sac where Ari's life first began.]
And of course the support and love that Rudy showed me throughout the whole birthing process was exactly what I needed. I couldn’t have endured this without him constantly by my side offering his silent but obvious encouragement.
My recovery, on the other hand, has been the most difficult, or at least the longest, of the four. Not only did I have to deal with a bladder that didn’t want to function while I was in the hospital, but I have also been having some post partum hemorrhaging. Five days after having Ari I even ended up in the emergency room because I passed a blood clot nearly the size of a racquetball. At first the doctors thought they might have to do surgery to stop the bleeding of a vessel that wasn’t clotting, but then they decided to give me a medication called Methergine to see if that would help. Thankfully it has, though I am still waiting to be fully recovered.
After birthing Ari I was so relieved to have him here. His pregnancy was by far the hardest for me … not so much in the physical sense, but more in the emotional and mental sense. I felt like I kind of had the during-pregnancy-blues with him as opposed to the post partum blues. I often was irritable and extra sensitive and at times I even felt a bit of anxiety… and this occurred even though I was still going to the gym 4 or 5 times a week. Transitioning to having four children has not necessarily been an easy task, but on one hand it hasn’t been too terribly bad because I am just grateful I am finally starting to feel more like my real self.