Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Birth Story of Ruth Aina

Little Ruth Aina turns one in just a few days! I decided that in honor of that event I'd post this story which I typed up almost six months ago. This has to be one of those 'better late than never' cases, right? I have loved looking back at the stories I wrote of Sarah's birth and of Sam's birth (and have wished for one of James' birth), so I'm glad I have this one, too. Here it is:

Six and a half months can leave the memories somewhat fuzzy, but I'll do my best to recreate the day our beautiful Ruth Aina joined our family.

'Good Parts' Version (for those who would like to be spared the not-so-pretty details):

I was induced on my due date, February 28th, because I was suddenly measuring big at my appointment the day before. Big turned out to be an understatement, and "little" Ruth made her grand entrance at 6:05pm amid gasps from all the nurses. She weighed 10 pounds 8 ounces and was 21 inches long.

The Whole Story (I won't get too gory, but if you don't like birth stories, now's your chance to stop reading. Also, it's long. Like super long.):

Overall, this pregnancy went more smoothly than my previous one. I didn't have nearly as much back pain (with Sam, I had physical therapy every week for the whole second half of the pregnancy) or swelling. I just felt huge. And heavy. Really huge and heavy. As the end of the pregnancy approached, I prepared myself to once again go past my due date. Although I was definitely ready physically to not be pregnant anymore, I was definitely NOT ready to be a mother of four. The house was a disaster, I hadn't really gotten any of the baby stuff ready, and I was sort of panicky about being responsible for four little humans.

On Thursday, February 27th, I headed to my 40 week check up. This is the appointment where I usually set my induction date, and I was preparing myself for that discussion. What I wasn't prepared for was, "I'm not comfortable with how big you are measuring. If you had gestational diabetes, we'd be talking c-section right now, but since you don't, we can get you in to be induced tomorrow morning." Whaaaaa?!? I had just had an ultrasound to verify that I was measuring big, and they estimated that she was 9 lbs 13 oz. (Side story - As you can see from above, they were off in their estimate. All night after my appointment I told myself that they were probably off. I'd heard that ultrasound measurements can be off up to 2 pounds in either direction. I figured the baby would end up being right around Sam's size (8lbs 15oz). I never dreamed they would have UNDER-estimated her size.) 

I'm not quite sure how I got home from that appointment, but I was pretty much freaking out by that time. I was worried about everything. The state of the house. The size and health of the baby. The idea of going natural--as was my plan--even while being induced. The fact that I no longer had 5 more days (ish) to prepare myself physically and mentally. On and on and on.

Two people saved me from spiraling out of control. The first one is Paul, who hugged me about a million times that night and told me everything would be ok. The second one is my mom, who got online and bought a plane ticket as soon as she heard the news and landed in Portland that night at 11:00pm. Knowing Paul would be with me every second of the process and my mom would be with my kids back at home helped me forge on, not exactly bravely, but forge on nonetheless.

Biggest belly ever! Yikes.

The next morning we needed to check in at the hospital at 9:30am. I was grateful it wasn't too early. This gave us a chance to drop James off at school, go to the store for hospital snacks, pick up our traditional pre-baby Jamba Juice (usually I'm in labor during that part), and head to the hospital. 

Issues popped up almost immediately when upon getting me all set up and hooked up to monitors the nurse discovered that the only pregnancy I was connected to in my records was Samuel. I guess they aren't used to patients having babies so close together...heh. We couldn't really get started with anything until they got that figured out, so Paul and I ended up watching shows on my laptop while being serenaded by the sweet sound of our baby's heartbeat on the monitor for about an hour and a half.

Once the nurse and several tech guys figured out the glitch, the doctor came in to break my water. I really hoped to avoid pitocin if I could, so the plan was to start things off this way. All morning, the nurse had been saying things like, "Oh, you'll definitely have this baby by noon." If only. Because the baby had not engaged yet, the doctor couldn't reach to break my water. Pitocin it was. 

Now I know that for some women pitocin brings on contractions hard and strong and fast, but that wasn't the case for me. I just got a few wimpy contractions every 10-15 minutes or so. They kept upping the dose, but nothing really changed. The contractions hurt, but I could tell they weren't real ones. Sure enough, after several hours on pitocin, I had progressed roughly half a centimeter. Sigh. So much for having a baby by noon!

I should make a small note at this point regarding monitoring. One of the things I like about going natural is that I can be monitored intermittently. I don't have to be attached to any machines. Unfortunately, as soon as pitocin entered the picture, the hospital required me to be on the monitors continuously. Despite the nurse's assurance that I should move around however I wanted and that she'd worry about the monitoring, I just felt tied to the bed. Every time I even shifted my position in bed, the monitor would get messed up and the nurse would have to come in and fix it. I didn't like that part at all. So yeah, here is my unsolicited advice to you future pregnant ladies contemplating childbirth without an epidural: don't be induced if you can help it.

At about 3:15pm, the doctor came back in to see me and to actually for reals break my water. It was incredibly painful, but she was ultimately successful. **GROSSNESS ALERT** And boy was there a lot. Part of why I had been measuring big the day before on my ultrasound was because my fluid levels were a bit higher than normal (this was another reason why I suspected their weight estimate was high). The water just kept flowing out of me. It was comical. The nurse would come over to help clean me up a bit, but then she'd check and it would still be coming out. I swear, it lasted a solid 5 minutes. Paul and I both got a good laugh out of that.

It was about this point when the nurse started saying things like, "Now we're moving. I'm sure you'll have a baby in your arms within the hour." Please note: never say this to a woman in labor. If you're following along with our timeline, you'll know that Ruth was born just under three hours from the time the doctor broke my water. Those three hours were the LONGEST of my life.

I was in so much pain. Just when I was convinced I couldn't handle another contraction, another one would hit and prove me wrong. It was so frustrating to be hearing the nurse say, "You'll be done within the hour, I promise!" while at the same time progressing (what felt to me to be) agonizingly slowly. Each time I was checked, I'd only be one more centimeter dilated.

After one of these depressing checks, I asked if the baby was posterior. The doctor said, "Oh, I didn't check, would you like me to?" I was getting pretty angry by this point, so I'm pretty proud that I kept myself from yelling at her, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DIDN'T CHECK?!" and instead calmly said, "Yes, please." This same thing happened when I was in labor with Sam (with a different doctor). I'm not sure why doctors don't check for this automatically, especially with women who don't have epidurals. There are positions women can use to help move the baby. Knowing the position of the baby is valuable information!

Ruth wasn't completely posterior, but she was basically sideways and stuck against my pelvic bone. This was keeping her from engaging and slowing my labor. At this point a few things happened: 1. I got pretty depressed and started crying and asking everyone to stop lying to me (I know I was being irrational, but basically every time anyone said something about how soon it was going to be over, I said, "Stop lying to me!"). 2. I made a deal with my nurse that if I was still only one centimeter more dilated in a half hour (at 5:45pm), she'd call the anesthesiologist. And 3. I asked the nurse if there was anything I could to to encourage the baby to move and engage.

Worst 30 minutes EVER. The nurse's tricks for moving the baby, while effective, were incredibly painful. The only good thing about it was that I has happy to be taking some action. I was also very happy to have a deadline for the pain.

Thirty minutes passed. It was 5:45pm. The nurse checked, and sure enough, I had only progressed one more centimeter. Here's roughly how our conversation went:

Me: "Okay, call the anesthesiologist."
Nurse: "I know I said I would, but I promise you are SO close to being done this ti..."
Me: "No. You promised. Call the anesthesiologist."
Nurse: "You are so close. You are just so close to being done."
Me: "No. You are lying to me. Call the anesthesiologist."
Nurse: "I know I've been saying this the whole time, but it really is different this time."
Me: "No. Call."
Nurse: "Okay."

But (as you may have guessed if you are following along with our timeline), the nurse was right. It was different this time. The next contraction completed my dilating, and the room burst into action. Suddenly, the bed was broken down, tables of tools were uncovered, nurses swarmed, and a new doctor came in. Apparently, the anesthesiologist came to the door, saw that it was too late, and left somewhere during that time.

Turns out, six women gave birth that hour at the hospital. This was a stroke of luck on my part because the doctor that was supposed to be on call for me was the same one that delivered Sarah. And I didn't like him one bit. Thankfully, he was busy delivering another baby at the moment I needed a doctor, so a different one came in. This one is affectionately known as the "Mommy Whisperer" around the hospital. He was amazing. He was just what I needed to get through the next 15 minutes.

At 6:05pm, Ruth made her entrance into the world. I think my chart says that there were officially 9 minutes of pushing. Normally they put babies straight onto the mommy's tummy and then measure and weigh after an hour of skin to skin time. When Ruth appeared, the doctor and nurses all audibly gasped. Someone said, "Umm...we need to weigh her." Our beautiful baby weighed 10 and a half pounds! I couldn't believe it. When they put her on my belly I was shocked at how heavy she felt.

The proof!
With Sarah and Sam, I felt amazing immediately after giving birth. This time I felt like I had been turned inside out. My body was shaking, and I felt like it was on fire. The nurse offered some IV meds, and I accepted. They kicked in almost immediately, and I was able to fully enjoy my new, beautiful daughter.

It took us a little while to figure out her name. We hadn't been able to find a middle name we liked before she was born, so once we got to our recovery room, Paul sat down to really find one. Aina means love and harmony. We both loved it right away, and announced to our families that Ruth Aina was here and we were all happy and healthy.

Paul and I look back at those couple of days in the hospital very fondly. We were relaxed and peaceful. We enjoyed our one on one time with Baby Ruth before we brought her home to the chaos of three older siblings. It was a huge blessing to have those happy days of calm following two of the most stressful days I've ever had.

A happy family of SIX!

Her older siblings loved her immediately:

I can't believe it has been a year since our Ruth Aina became part of our family! She is a joyful baby girl, and I can't imagine life without her.