Wednesday, November 30, 2005

When Levi was born

It was about a week and a half before my due date so I still thought I had plenty of time. After all, I'm late for everything:) Boy, you really don't know anything the first time around, huh? I had read all the books and magazines. I had my birth plan all worked out - no drugs, no unneccessary interventions, etc. I was going to be great at this whole birth thing. Of course I thought I was going to be great at the whole pregnancy thing, too, and that hadn't gone exactly like I planned what with the never-ending morning sickness and all. And I had been on semi-bedrest for two days due to slight pre-eclampsia. But I was determined to "do" birth just right. I couldn't wait!
On Saturday night we went to a family Christmas party where I ate as many cream puffs as I could hold and complained about a nagging backache (to which my aunt replied "please don't have that baby right here"). The next morning I woke up having very mild contractions and decided to skip church. I just told Casey I didn't feel like going - no need to panic him just yet:) I rested up while he was gone and got a few more things unpacked. We had just moved from our apartment to a house and I was still trying to find everything. I had to unpack so I could pack for the hospital.
When Casey came home the contractions were still irregular and pretty far apart. We hung out for most of the afternoon until about six when they started coming about every ten minutes. We called my mom in Texas and called my doctor to let him know we'd be coming in sometime. We lived about an hour from the hospital so I'd been well-warned not to wait until the last minute. By 9:00 the contractions were every 6 minutes and getting painful so we headed out the door with that last "life will never be the same" look back. It was a long ride down to the hospital.
And of course when we got there I was no where near as far along as I thought - barely 2 cm dialated. My doctor didn't want to send me home so we walked. My aunt arrived almost as soon as we got there with my grandparents right behind her. Casey was a little annoyed with everyone. I think he felt like they thought he couldn't take care of me or like this should be a special time for just us. I would have agreed with him up until they actually got there:) Then I was so glad to have some company! Someone to baby me a little (not his strong suit, although he's come along way since then).
We walked for hours until I hit about 4 cm, then they wanted to hook me up to the fetal monitor. I readily agreed because it meant getting to lay down! My contractions felt a lot stronger than the little chart showed. I will never forget Casey saying "look, that one only went a third of the way up!" I was not terribly upset when he suggested running to my Granny's for a quick shower at about 7 that morning. Not that I was glad to see him go, of course. My grandfather fussed a little at him, but we figured we knew what we were doing. So my grandmothers sat with me for awhile. My doctor offered me stadol "to take the edge off" but I was still holding out. I noticed myself getting very cranky - my grandmother's conversation with each other was really getting on my nerves. "Why weren't they paying enough attention to me?" Until I had a contraction and then it was "why are they talking to me, can't they see I'm busy?" About that time I got very suddenly, very violently sick. The "nice" nurse washed me off and let me get up long enough to wash out my hair in the sink, but wouldn't let me take a shower. By the time I got back to the bed, the contractions were a lot harder and I was doing every breathing exercise I could remember to get through them. But, upon inspection, I was still not dialated very far. So, with Casey back by my side, we agreed to the pitocin. The contractions were suddenly off the chart and coming in no predictable pattern at all - one on top of the other. I think at that point they gave me stadol, but I don't really remember anything except feeling totally out of control. The next thing I remember is Casey saying that the baby's heartbeat was getting really low. He was watching that machine like a hawk. The nurse checked me and called the doctor, who inserted that internal monitor and checked me again. That was probably the most physical pain I've ever experienced. The doctor was talking, but I had no idea he was talking to me. At that point I really felt like I was going to die and just hoping that Casey would tell him to do whatever he needed to do to save them baby. I heard the doctor say "we need to get the baby out now" and when I didn't respond he shook my foot and said "Shannon, I need your consent." I was shocked that he thought I was even following their conversation - I had no idea he'd been talking to both of us.
From then on things went fast. Casey kissed me and I tried to smile at him as they wheeled me into the OR. The nurses weren't talking to me and I honestly didn't now what was going on. I didn't read the part of the book about c-sections since I wasn't going to have one. I know one nurse was particularly annoyed because I'd left my bra on! I remember the catheter being really painful on top of everything else. They were giving me oxygen and for some reason I assumed that's where the stuff to knock me out would come from. Also I was slightly hyperventilating so I was really sucking on that oxygen mask! About that time I saw my doctor standing over me with a scalpel. I've never been so scared in my life. I was so sure he was about to cut me open while I was still wide awake. Thank the Lord, he saw the look on my face and understood. He leaned over and said "I promise I won't hurt you, you'll be fine." Then they knocked me out.
I came to in the recovery room after what seemed like hours. Casey was there telling me he loved me and my cousin came in. She said "he's so beautiful. he has a head full of hair." And I thought, "who is she talking about it?" I was still a little out of it when they wheeled me into a room because when the nurse stopped by the nursery window and showed me my baby, I didn't know which one she meant.
But when they brought him to me...that was a whole different story. Here was my baby! I recognized him right away - he was the exact baby I'd been dreaming about my whole life. Just exactly like I'd always imagined me baby. Almost all of the baby boys in Casey's family had been fat and blond so I kind of assumed that's the kind we'd have, too. But this was MY baby. The perfect size, perfect features, perfect dark hair:) It was literally like being high - I was above the moon.
My doctor came in shortly to talk to me about what went wrong during the birth. He spent a long time talking to me and apologized several times that he didn't have time to talk to me more first and explain things, since he was well aware that I wanted to avoid a c-section. But Levi's cord had prolapsed and was coming first -everytime I had a contraction his head pressed on the cord and cut off his oxygen supply. Apparently he had a few dicey moments in the OR when they had to give him oxygen. I thank God for that doctor and for that surgery. I can't even let myself imagine what might have happened.
That night I had a fever which puts me at higher risk for uterine rupture now so I will probably always have c-sections from now on. But even though I was very depressed about it for a long time afterwards, I think I've managed to accept it now. I do regret that I won't ever be able to physically give birth, but I also see now what an idol I'd made out of "all-natural" childbirth. I have so much to be thankful for, including modern medicine which saved both our lives. Thanks be to God that I have my son and my daughter here healthy and that I can go on to have more children.

Monday, November 28, 2005

My second cesarean

Brenna's birth went a lot smoother than Levi's - no emergencies. It was a planned repeat cesarean, but since I was unconcious during my first one I really didn't know exactly what to expect. We got to the hospital bright and early after leaving Levi at my grandparents' house where we'd spent the night. My mom and dad and aunt and cousins were right behind us, but I'd told them not to hurry since I thought it would take awhile before we got to the actual operating room. Luckily they didn't listen to me because things at the hospital went fast. After I got changed into that horrible gown all the really undignified stuff got started pretty quick. By the time my mom stepped in to say that they were all there I was about to get an epidural. It was June and there was some kind of a/c problem. I don't remember being hot but I do remember Casey saying he smelled something musty. I have to say it wasn't on the top of my list of concerns. The epidural was my big problem. It took 4 tries and it was extremely painful. I still don't really know if my vertebrae are too close together or if I was just so huge with Brenna that I couldn't bend far enough or what. Honestly I don't like to think about it too much. After the third try Casey had to step out of the room. I think he said something about the smell making him feel lightheaded, but really he just couldn't deal with seeing me in that much pain. He had a hard time when I was in labor with Levi, too. He stepped a little too far away though because as soon as the epidural was in they were wheeling me to the OR and we couldn't find him! My parents were there and I remember the nurse saying "who else do you want in there if we can't find him?" He got back right in the nick of time, though:) I was so excited - giddy is the only word I can think of to describe it. I expected to be really nervous about the surgery, but all I could really focus on was seeing my baby. The doctors were talking about the grandopening of the new HomeDepot the night before (my doctor won a table saw and I joked with him not to break it in on me!). Casey watched the whole thing (why do men feel the need to see all that?) and when they pulled her out, he was the one that said "she's here!"
After that they weighed her (9lbs!) and wrapped her up. The pediatrician held her so that I could see her and picked up my hand to help me touch her ( I thought my arms were strapped down, but they weren't), but then she was whisked off to the nursery and I sent Casey to keep an eye on her. By that time lots more family had shown up (although my dad still nearly missed it for a cup of coffee - after coming all that way!) and they were all waiting in the hall. The nurse put a small birth announcement we wrote up in her bassinet announcing her name - the big surprise. Brenna Janes (Brenna after my mom Brenda and Janes after Casey's mom & my granny's maiden name). In the meantime they sewed me up, which took forever, and wheeled me into recovery. I wanted company and wanted my baby! My dad brought Levi in to see me, but I had the shakes and I was afraid I'd scare him. And then Casey brought the camcorder in so I could watch the tape of her first bath. That helped, but all you really want when you have a baby is to hold her and look her over from head to toe:) I couldn't wait to get in a room so they would bring her to me.
She was beautiful. Her little face looked squished from being stuck in a too-small womb (I can't help she was a big girl and I'm only 5'2"), but she was still so pretty. Long fingers and fingernails, a head full of dark, dark hair. And she nursed like a champ! Until she got sleepy and decided she wasn't hungry for a couple of hours - we learned lots of tricks for waking a baby (that I never used again).
And it was a nice, uneventful hospital stay with just a few exceptions. My blood count got very low and there was a lot of talk about giving me a transfusion which I did not want. I finally talked the doctor into waiting just a little while and with some effort on my part (making myself eat and walk - yuck!) it came up. I hope to avoid that this time. Also the baby was accidently given a bottle of formula which I wasn't happy about, so now I know to put a sign in the bassinet.
Overall, it was a great experince. I learned a lot about what I like and don't like and I have some defintite ideas this time about how things should go. But, in the end, whatever works to keep me and baby healthy is okay with me.
Soon I'll write out Levi's birth story. Until then I'll be reading some of the others written out on Kim's blog.

Managing our time

I stumbled across this wonderful article on time management this morning and it really got me thinking. I'm a planner by nature - I have a list for everything in my little steno notebook. Let's see there's a master list of everything I need to rememeber to do, a to do today list, a list of the menus I've planned to cook for the next two weeks, a list of some dinners to make for the freezer sometime before baby gets here, a list of presents to buy or make and the shopping list to accompany it, a list of books to checkout of the library or buy, a list of scriptures I plan to write on our walls...are y'all tired of reading about my lists yet? Cause I'm only about half way through! Let's just say I'm more of a planner than a do-er, although I am improving. I'd much rather make a list of what to do than actually have to do all those things - clean the refridgerator, yuck! And I feel somewhat superior when I add those big jobs to my list. I mean surely I'm a great homemaker, after all I have "clean the baseboards w/ toothbrush" on my list. Right? Nevermind that my house looks like a tornado hit it right this minute because I'm so busy thinking up more stuff to do and writing it on my list.
So what to do about all this overplanning? I've decided to set aside a daily planning time - using a timer! - to do my list making and a weekly time to get the big stuff out of the way. And that's it! No more spending what should be dishwashing time writing "wash dishes" on my list!
Some other things that have been eating up my time have been cut out of my daily schedule altogether. No more wasting time watching television unless it's actually something edifying (we rented Luther not long ago and I got a lot out of that). My Bible time comes first and any reading that I do after that has to pass the edifying test, too. Am I learning from it? Is it helping me in my Christian walk? To be a better wife? Mother? Homemaker? Even fiction read purely for enjoyment can be uplifting.
There are so many good things vying for our time these days - family, church, kids' extracurricular stuff, service opportunities, etc. I've tried to spend a lot of time lately praying about the priorities God has for me. And now it's time for me to make sure my activities line up with those priorities.