If there is one thing I love, it's a birth story. I love them all - easy, hard, long, gory, textbook, not quite perfect - and I'll happily settle in with a cup of coffee if someone wants to spill the whole deal to me. I also love to share my birth stories, but I find it's kind of a hard thing to squeeze into casual conversation. Oh hey, I love your new haircut! And did you know that I gave birth to Sally so fast that my doctor barely had time to catch her? Good times.
This is why I love the Momosphere: all these blogging mamas eventually spill their birth/adoption stories in some way, and I can throw mine out there without looking like a nutcase. (Well, maybe I look like a nutcase, but it's not just because of the incessant birth story-telling)
Sarcastic Mom is hosting a Birth Story Carnival, and I am stepping right up to buy my ticket. I've already written my accounts of Francie's, Fiver's, and Sally's births, so I'll just give you the links. As an added bonus, you'll get the never-before-told Tale of Bun! You've got to give the people what they want.
**N.B.: These posts are longer than most of my usual rambling nonsense, so if you want to read them straight through, you might want to take a potty break now. Plus you get to see the old nicknames I used to call my kids. Kind of makes your day, right?
Francie's Story: July 16, 1999 8 lbs, 9 oz 22.5 inches
Fiver's Story: August 27, 2002 8lbs, 15 oz, 20 inches
Sally's Story: June 23, 2006 9lbs, 3 oz 21.5 inches
The Tale of Bun: February 1, 2008 7lbs, 12 oz 21 inches
Bun's whole pregnancy was like one very long, very surreal trip. My previous pregnancies had been easy and uncomplicated, with labors that seemed to follow suit. I never took that for granted, since I had seen so many of my friends and family have much harder pregnancies, but I did, in the very back of my mind, come to think of myself as a "good pregnant person." I felt very blessed to have a body that did its thing with such competence.
So when I got pregnant with Bun, I assumed that his pregnancy would progress much the same way as the others. We all know what they say about those who assume, right?
At my 20 week ultrasound, they diagnosed the single umbilical artery defect which shot me right over to the perinatologists for monthly ultrasounds. During the course of those ultrasounds, my original due date for the end of February was bumped up to February 9, based on Bun's measurements. All the ultrasounds showed that Bun was healthy and growing well, with no other birth defects that are sometimes associated with SUA.
The farther along I progressed, the less the doctors worried about growth restriction from SUA and the more they worried about my amniotic fluid. It seems that I had a tad too much water in there. Well, maybe more than a tad - Bun was living large in an Olympic sized swimming pool.
Plus, there was the added bonus of Bun flipping all over the place. My doctor and I would watch as Bun, during the span of one ultrasound, would flip head up and then roll over to put his head on my left side. The he would rotate counter-clockwise until his head was on the other side. My uterus was one big hamster wheel for him, and he never stopped rolling.
As we got closer to my due date, the perinatologists were getting nervous about the amount of fluid and Bun's position. They were lobbying hard for an elective c-section at 37 weeks. I was lobbying just as hard for letting nature take its course as long as Bun was healthy. My family doctor (who was the one to deliver Bun) had the unenviable task of walking the line in between.
She and I talked everything over, and we had decided that if, by Monday February 4, Bun was still in the incorrect position, she would bring me into the hospital and would try to do a version to get him to flip around. If the version worked, I would be induced immediately to make sure he didn't flip around again. If it didn't work, then I was headed for a c-section anyway. I was happy with that plan, and we made my final "regular office" appointment.
Everything we had so meticulously planned was thrown out the window when I went in for my check-up on Thursday, the 31st. My doctor had scheduled my version/induction time slot, and I remained busy with our weekly therapy appointments and school schedules. Given Bun's predilection for odd positioning, I figured that I had the weekend to pack my bag and get the other kids schedules set.
Rob, half-jokingly, said that I ought to make sure my bag was packed before my appointment on Thursday. I laughed it off, and told him that the only way I would need it was if Bun spontaneously turned vertex and my doctor rushed me off to the hospital.
Apparently that defective umbilical cord carried my voice straight to Bun's ears because . . .
My doctor, lovely woman that she is, decided to skip right to the ultrasound and spare me the waiting and wondering. We were laughing and offering guesses on which part of Bun would be presenting when she moved the wand around the bottom of my belly.
We stopped laughing pretty darn quick when we saw Bun's head resting there above my cervix. We just could not believe that he had turned so completely on his own, and that grainy little picture set a whole lot of wheels moving.
My doctor, wanting to strike while the iron was hot, suggested an immediate induction before Bun decided to flip around again. Since I was in my 38th week, and it looked like we could avoid the stress of a version, Rob and I agreed. I was put on the schedule for a four o'clock induction, and that left me roughly seven minutes to get my kids home from school, return the overdue library books, get them set up with my mother, pack a bag, shave my legs, and brush my teeth.
I'm fast, but I'm no Flash Gordon. Leg shaving went out the window in favor of having a bag with clothes in it. Ever the optimist, I did not pack much because Bun was moving like a madman for the whole drive home and I was convinced that he had flipped back around. I didn't feel like dragging a huge bag over to the hospital just to be told to go home because he had moved. Again.
When we met my doctor at the hospital, she did another ultrasound just to make sure that there was nothing else between Bun's head and my cervix. No foot, no cord, no little hand waving hello, nothing. We had the green light.
Since my cervix was closed tight as a drum, I had to have some Cytotec for cervical ripening. It took about three doses to get some contractions going, and while we were waiting for the Cytotec to bring the pain, Rob and I got to watch the Lost season premiere and hang out with the L&D triage nurses.
You may not believe me when I say this, but with Fiver and Sally, my labor rooms sounded more like a party than like anything else. Rob managed to keep us all laughing and upbeat, at least until the hard labor and transition set in. We have always thought that labor would be such a nice date if I wasn't in so much pain: semi-private room, no other kids hanging around, ice chips and Popsicles on demand, no cartoons on TV. Who wouldn't want love that?
With Bun, we were still joking and having fun, but in the back of my mind there was only one thought on a continuous loop: Is this really happening NOW? In retrospect, I can see now that I had a pretty clear sense of apprehension about the whole thing. I chalked it up to the fact that all my other children were late, and I just wasn't accustomed to having a baby before my due date.
The Cytotec and my body finally got it together, and I was having pretty regular contractions all through the night. They didn't feel too intense, so I was wondering if they were doing anything, but they were and I was moved from triage to a delivery room around 4 AM.
Despite all the contracting and breathing on my part, Bun was still "floating" above my pelvis and churning like a turbine. The nurse couldn't even get accurate tracings from the fetal monitors because he was so active. She kept pressing the monitor into my contracting belly and looking up at me, and I wanted to tell her, Lady, there's nothing I can do. This kid has ignored me from the get-go, so good luck to you.
Because the Baby Lo-Jack couldn't get a good fix on his heart tones, and also because he wasn't moving down into my pelvis, my doctor wanted to break my water. She felt that all the extra fluid was keeping him from descending, and she wanted to really put the screws to him with an internal monitor (seriously - they screwed it into his head.) My doctor is a patient person, but she ain't no dummy. It was Go Time and Bun wasn't getting on board.
I knew that once my water was gone, I would have a huge surge in pain from the contractions. With Sally, I went so fast that the increase in pain was manageable since I was hurtling toward pushing at breakneck speed. This time around, I had a feeling that I would not go so quickly. Bun was taking his time, and I was exhausted by the worry and stress of the pregnancy, so I opted for the epidural.
Since they knew I had excess fluid, the nurses rigged up a little Hoover Dam at the bottom of my bed. They put a couple layers of those absorbent pads beneath me, and then rolled up blankets and towels and created a perimeter around the bed to catch the overflow. It worked, because after my water was broken it created a little lake before soaking into all the padding. The nurses did a great job, but I had so much fluid that I just felt like I was constantly laying in a bed that I had wet. (well, I was laying in a bed that I had wet, but you know what I mean.)
Once the internal monitor was placed, we got Bun's heart tones loud and clear. He looked healthy and strong, and since I was only six centimeters, I took the opportunity to rest. I was in between sleeping and waking, in that drowsy state when everything you hear comes to you in a muffled, filtered way. I knew people were coming in and out of the room, checking this and poking that, but I just did not care. I once again returned to my thoughts of I can't believe this is happening. I looked up at the clock and saw the date written on the board below it: Friday, February 1. Two of my older children had been born on Friday, and today was also my father's birthday. I took it all as a good sign.
To be continued tomorrow . . .