Monday, July 18, 2016

Caleb's Birth Story

This is the longest I've taken to write a child's birth story. Sweet, chubby Caleb is now four months old, so I'd better do it before I forget too much more.

The "birth plan" I had discussed with the midwives and OBs at Yokosuka Naval Hospital was to try for a VBAC, but have a C-section schedule for March 14th (Pi Day!) should labor not start on it's own before then. My due date was March 12th, but, this being my third baby, I knew that meant very little. Still, I was past uncomfortably pregnant and I just wanted to be done. I had an appointment with Dr. Iannitto on Friday, March 11. I had been have some pretty regular contractions, but nothing nearly painful enough to start considering labor. She did a pelvic exam and stated that I was about 3-4 cm dilated, and I retorted that since it was my fourth baby I'd probably been 3 cm since conception. But she also said my bag of waters was bulging so much she was tempted to break it, but didn't want to have to make the corpsman clean it up, which we both laughed about. Instead she did a fantastic (read painful) job of stripping my membranes and said she'd let Labor and Delivery know that I'd probably be in that night. 

I had a lot of errands to run after my appointment, mostly buying food so that there would be plenty in the house for whether the baby was born that weekend or by the scheduled c-section. I was pretty optimistic though as my contractions strengthened during all my walking. I went home where my mom was watching Wesley and Clara  and told her about the visit and we were both hopeful. I think I may have napped, I don't remember. I also think I picked up Ellie from school. I kept track of when contractions started on my phone. I do know that  I called Ben after school was done and told him to come home in a timely fashion as I thought we'd be taking a very romantic trip to the hospital that night. I finished packing a hospital bag and made dinner. 

Ben came home and we ate and chatted and my contractions were slowly, but steadily getting stronger. We put the kids to bed and headed to the hospital. At the hospital the doctor on duty was the only one in the office I hadn't yet met-but of course. But Dr. Cheng was professional and kind. But he checked me and said I hadn't really progressed, and told us to go walk around and come back in a few hours. So we walked over to the theater and fixed some training wheels for Ellie. Then we walked to the NEX and purchased a few things, mostly some snacks for Ben since he knew it was going to be a long night. Then we drove over to the gym because it was just really cold outside. We walked around in there, then out by the softball and baseball fields where some games were taking place. We chatted with Brandon Casperson, who was watching his daughter play softball. Ben chatted with some other teachers he saw. We waved hello to Sierra Williams and Maddie Battle, two awesome drama students on the softball team. We walked back inside and continued doing laps round the gym. We measured how tall we were on a thing in the hallway (Ben is just shy of 6'2" and I'm just shy of 5'9"). During all the walking we'd pause every few minutes as I would work through a contraction. At one paint I was leaning against a wall and swaying through one as a student approached Ben and said hello and asked if I was okay. Ben said, "She's fine. She's just working through a contraction." I think that really startled the boy and he he took off. I guess you don't expect someone to be so nonchalant about labor!

About 9 pm I decided I was done and that I was checking into the hospital to have this baby or so help me! We went back and the doctor agreed I was truly in labor. I think he was possibly more antsy to have the baby than I was, or at least he wanted it done by the end of his shift at 8 am. I knew I wanted an epidural since it was possible I'd need a c-section, so they also put me on a very low dosage of pitocin to speed things up (I told you the doctor was antsy). I must have been dehydrated from all of my walking because the nurses had a devilish time getting a IV line in. I've got great, huge veins, but apparently they are also full of valves. The third site finally took, and I had amazing bruises to prove how difficult it was the next day. 

I labored and rested for the next several hours. I honestly don't remember much of it. I know the doctor broke my water to speed things along at some point, and it was quite bulging. I was finally ready to push sometime  around 4 am. I pushed, but I could tell I just didn't have the same energy. I was worried I wasn't strong enough to push him out., but mostly I was worried he'd have his head turned to the side like all of my other babies and I literally wouldn't be able to push him out due to size and positioning. We tried lots of different positions, and finally found one that was a good fit. I loved my nurse, by the way, even though I can't remember her name. But as I passed the two hour mark of pushing I began to lose hope. The doctor came in and suggested we try the vacuum, as both he and the nurse thought there was something funky happening since the baby's pulse started dropping when I would contract and push. Nothing serious, but something that definitely need watching. The nurse thought perhaps the cord was around his neck, but I just knew that his head was to the side. All of my other kids were the same. I'm convinced I have something funky happening physiologically that makes all of my kids asynclitic

So on went the vacuum and I pushed, and off it popped with the doctor tried to pull. And it did so rather dramatically. I was so swollen from over two hours of pushing that when it popped off it tore some of tissue and cause blood to spatter everywhere, on me, on the nurse on the doctor, on the floor, on Ben, and most dramatically, on the ceiling. It was pretty impressive. After that we all agreed that this baby would be born by c-section. The doctor tried to stitch up the tear, but it just kept ripping because it was so swollen that he finally just packed me with gauze for now. Papers were signed and my epidural was turned up and Ben prepped for surgery and off we went. And I was at complete ease with all of it. I knew that I had truly done my best and that this was okay, and that was really important to me. I had wanted a vaginal birth, because I didn't fancy the idea of recovering from a c-section again, but I just knew that this was right.

It's a strange sensation to feel your numbed body be dissected and tugged at until the small, perfect, wriggly little human emerges from you. I heard him cry first, a cry that both soothed my soul and enlivened it with instant love. But seeing Caleb in all of his chubby, crying glory was another small moment of perfection and triumph, despite my strange bodily sensations. Thankfully, there was no cord wrapped around his neck. He was just asynclitic and not happy about being pushed down my birth canal in such an uncomfortable position.

Ben watched Caleb while the doctor stitched me up, both my stomach and my vaginal tear. My epidural was wearing off and I was feeling more than I really wanted to, but I was thankful that I didn't have to puke like I did after Wesley's birth. I also didn't have the shakes as bad.

Caleb was born at 7:35 am, on his due date, March 12, 2016. He weighed in at 9 lbs 12 oz, and was 21 inches long. He had a surprising amount of hair and it was pretty dark, even redder than any of our other kids. He was loud, just like our other kids!

After I was settled in the recovery room I held and nursed him to my heart's content. Just like his brother, he was a champion nurser from the get go. I also had one of the quickest recoveries that the nurses there had ever seen. I give absolute credit to the exercising I had done during my third trimester to help control my gestational diabetes. It became clear to me pretty quickly that my physical recovery from this cesarean would go much more smoothly that my previous one.

Ben brought my mom and the kids to visit their new brother that afternoon. They did the birthday dance for him. It was so sweet to see each of my babies love on their new brother.

We spent two days in the hospital and took Caleb home on Pi Day, complete with all of us wearing our Pi Day shirts.

The next few weeks were spent sleeping, eating, and taking pictures of sweet Caleb. At his two week appointment Caleb was weighing in at over 11 lbs, so clearly all of this relaxing was paying off for him.

Ben's Dad flew in the weekend of April 3, on which Sunday we blessed Caleb in church. I was so grateful that both my Mom and Don were able to be with us on that special Sunday. They both flew back home early Tuesday morning.

And just like that we were a family of six.

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