Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Catherine's Birth Story - Part 1

Our family welcomed our 5th baby, Catherine Joy, on July 16th.  Here is her birth story:

Monday, July 16th was my due date based on the early ultrasound I'd had sometime around my 11th week of pregnancy.  The Friday prior to the 16th I had a routine prenatal appointment with my OB (whom I like very much).  For 3 of my previous deliveries, I had been induced within a few days before or after 41 weeks pregnant.  For the sake of my emotions, I had decided on a mental due date of July 23rd.  At my appointment I even set up an appointment on Thursday the 19th for the required "past due-date" non-stress test because, well, I was just planning that I would not have the baby until sometime around 41 weeks.  We weren't doing a lot of school and I had a few projects I wanted to wrap up, plus a few special things I wanted to do with the girls and Silas to kill time while we waited for the baby.  I planned to gather up most of the stuff I wanted to take to the hospital, get out the coming home outfits (one for a boy, one for a girl, because we don't find out the gender ahead of time), raise the crib mattress and put sheets on it, and so on.  I also wanted to make soft pretzals, some cookies, a few breakfast things to freeze, and maaaybe even doughnuts.  Just things to keep me from dwelling on being "past" my due date.

At my doctor's appointment on Friday, Dr. P checked me and I was 3cm, almost 4cm.  She was dead serious when she said "I don't think you'll make it through next week," to which I laughed.  She asked what I thought, I said I was sure I wouldn't have the baby until my 41st week.  We talked through a spontaneous induction scenario that I liked, because I don't like scheduled inductions, and I came home.  I did a lot of office work getting things wrapped up before I would be "off" for a few-several weeks.  I made sure bills were paid, deposits put in the bank, and basically just tried to get as much done as I could.  Daniel brought home dinner, and we had a nice at-home date before we went to pick up the girls and Silas from his parents' (they keep the bigger kids most Fridays while I do office work for Daniel's business).

On Saturday I felt a little uncomfortable and had some other indicators that made me tell Daniel "this is probably just from her checking me yesterday, but sometimes people have their babies within 24 hours of this."  A friend from church sent me a text and asked me if I could sub for her in her Sunday School class as she needed to be home with a sick child.  I said I would, IF I wasn't in the hospital.  I wasn't, so I subbed for her.  After church several people commented that "tomorrow (16th) was THE day!" I laughed and said I was sure it wouldn't be Monday at all.

I slept REALLY good Sunday night.  I got up with Daniel, showered, and dressed and was downstairs earlier than I had been in a long time.  The girls and Silas weren't even awake yet.  I was going to enjoy the quiet house and a cup of coffee as I made my breakfast and prepared theirs.  I sat down to put on my shoes.  I tied my right shoe and leaned over to tie my left shoe when I felt an unusual sensation of wet.  I quickly tied my shoe, wondering "did my water just break??" and stood up to keep the rocking chair from getting wet... IF, in fact, my water had broken.  Upon standing, I pulled my skirt up and observed rivers of liquidy stuff running down my legs.  I knew that it wasn't my bladder leaking.  {Side note: My water has NEVER spontaneously broken before, so this was a WHOLE new experience.  Shockingly surprising to say the least!!}  I grabbed my phone and dialed Daniel as I walked to the kitchen.  I grabbed 2 kitchen towels and stuffed them between my legs, and waddled back to the school room to wipe up the drips on the floor.  Daniel didn't answer, so I walked outside to talk to him. He was on the phone, talking to a customer and loading equipment into his van in preparation for his work day.  (He has his own HVAC business.)  He had just hung up so I yelled at him from the kitchen porch, "You're not going to work today!!" We both looked at each other in surprise as I told him my water had just broken.  He had to make several phone calls to get things in place for NOT working that day after-all, and I began calling my mother-in-law.  I called and called and called, and she wasn't answering her phone.  I was beginning to get a little panicked and called a friend from church with whom I had *just* discussed, the day before, this very scenario happening.  She assured me that we could take the kids to their house if we needed to.  Then I called my father-in-law, who had just stepped out of a meeting.  He said my MIL was home, but would be leaving at 9:30 for an appointment.  I called her over and over again a few more times and she still didn't answer.  Since I knew she was home, I went into highest of speeds to get the kids awake and into the van so we could get them to her house before she left.  I had Susannah and Sylvia put a change of clothes into their bag, picked out a set of clothes for Charity and Silas, and was giving out instructions left and right as fast as they completed each task.  They were crazy excited but also working quickly, knowing the sense of urgency and the need to beat the clock that was creeping closer and closer to 9:30.  If you have ever watched the original "Yours, Mine & Ours" movie (Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball), the scene where he is running down the hall banging on the bedroom doors shouting, "Red Alert! Red Alert!" came to mind.  I felt like I was doing my own version of "Red Alert!" and laughed about it several times.

The girls and Silas were about ready to go and I had the girls carrying things out to the van.  I was trying to make breakfast for Daniel and myself when my phone rang.  I answered it and it sounded like a hen squawking on the other end.  It was my MIL.  To the best that Daniel and I have deduced, my FIL called their neighbor and asked her to go tell my MIL to answer her phone. Haha! My MIL was totally beside herself in excitement.  We discussed how/when/where to trade off the kids and she decided to come pick them up and we would swap vehicles.  That took the time-stress off of me, and Daniel came in soon after and was able to help get Silas ready to go.  I called our doula to let her know what was going on; she planned to meet us at the hospital about 30 minutes after we would get there.  I wasn't having any contractions though things did feel differently.  I went upstairs and began throwing things into a bag for myself.  I have learned over the last 4 times what I like and want to take to the hospital.  The one thing I hadn't gotten out was comfy pants to wear and wear home.  I had to dig around in my closet and my bin of maternity clothes to try and find them.  I was feeling anxious and wanted to get to the hospital before I had the baby at home or in the car, haha!!  I also wanted the kids gone so I could have a 1-track brain with which to focus.

My MIL arrived and much to my amusement took nearly very clean towel from our linen closet and not only layered a bunch on the front passenger seat of her car, but she had also basically made a bed of towels in the back seat. Hahaha!!  She came upstairs to chat (I wasn't really in the mood but put on my cordial face) and gave her version of instructions for what to do if I had the baby en-route to the hospital (I wasn't overly amused; I had delivered 4 babies just fine so far and was certain that if I were to have the baby outside of the hospital between Daniel and I we wouldn't be wondering what to do with the baby. :P )  After a quick hug she left and took the kids with her.  Ahh, the house was finally quiet and I could think.  I finished loading my bag and came downstairs, deciding I wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee on the way to the hospital, PLUS I wanted to mental clarity and energy it would provide.  (My labor and delivery with Silas was done in a complete brain fog of exhaustion; I didn't want a repeat if I could help it.)  I had eaten an egg and cheese sandwich, and also began drinking water to be sure I was well-hydrated.

Daniel and I had a nice ride to the hospital, visiting and just enjoying being together.  At one point I was replaying the "Red Alert" clip from Yours, Mine & Ours on You-Tube and was laughing a lot.  I think I was on some kind of "new adventure" high... our baby coming ON it's due date, my water breaking on it's own, knowing we were going to have a baby within hours... it kinda puts you on a high!!

Daniel dropped me off at the hospital entrance and I stood there and waited probably at least 5 minutes for them to let me into the Labor and Delivery unit.  I debated walking while I waited but baby felt much lower than before and I didn't want to start anything without anyone there. Haha!!  They put me in a Triage room and I donned 2 gowns (one forward and one backward) and the nurse began the 101 questions.  The big question of the day from the nurse and the midwife was "You think your water broke? Was it a huge gush?"  To my response of "yes, I know it broke but it wasn't a huge gush.  I did soak 2 kitchen towels while I got ready to come, though," they ALWAYS said "well... that's a good story."  I don't know why they doubted that I knew what I was talking about.  They hooked me up to monitors but the midwife wanted to do the test to make sure my water had actually broken before they did anything else.  And the waiting frustration began.  In my mind I was going to arrive at the hospital, answer the questions, and go walking with our doula, and have the baby by early afternoon at the latest, best case scenario and not outside of what would be normal for me.  Lo and behold, the test strips for checking for amniotic fluid were locked up in some closet that only a security person could unlock and security never arrived to unlock the closet.  The L&D was completely full and our nurse and midwife were obviously busy as well.  I was thirsty and finally Amy went and got me a drink in a styrofoam cup.  Finally about 12:30 (after waiting for 1 1/2 hours in the bed, with my tailbone and backside beginning to really ache because those beds are horrible) the midwife decided to check me without first doing the amniotic test.  Lo and behold she discovered that I was right; my water HAD broken (hello, duh!!), and I was still between 3-4 cm, but 60% effaced.  That 60% news was exciting to me, it meant progress was happening even though I wasn't having contractions.

As soon as the midwife was finished, Amy took me walking.  We walked the L&D halls a few times but could not find any stairs.  With permission we went and walked and walked and walked the hospital, making our way between two sections and doing the stairs at each end.  She also had me do a deep squat after each set of stairs. (By deep, I mean hanging on the hand-rail, knees to my chest and backside nearly on the floor.)  The squats were definitely uncomfortable but not painful, and seemed to be very beneficial in making progress.  After our first walking session, we had to go back for another round of monitoring.  By that time I was roasting hot from the hot stair-wells and the roasting hot hallways of the hospital, and I was starving hungry.  Without asking permission from the nurse or midwife, Daniel left to go get some lunch for me and him from the cafeteria.  When the nurse came in and asked how I was doing, I said "hot and hungry!" and asked for a real cup of water.  When she heard that I was going to eat, she said "I didn't hear anything about that," meaning she was going to ignore the fact that I was eating before having a baby. (Eating during labor is very new in this hospital.)  Daniel brought back 2 trays of food and let me choose which one I wanted to eat.  The options were a meal of seasoned fish, rice and some vegetables, and a BBQ sandwich and I forget what else.  Since throwing up is a possibility, I decided I would rather throw up fish than BBQ and ate the fish.  It was completely tasteless to me except for the tarter sauce I put on top of it.  Then I dug into the wild rice, hoping for some flavor, and it tasted like I was chewing rye seed from the grain drill back home. Hahahaha!!! We all had a good laugh about that.  Daniel exclaimed how good his BBQ sandwich tasted, and knowing I love really good BBQ, offered me a bite.  I took one and the flavor of electrical smoke filled my mouth.  It tasted absolutely nasty to me.  We decided that being in labor had changed my tastebuds temporarily.  At this point I was having some mild contractions but they were irregular and not strong enough for me to really pinpoint a start or stop time.

I am going to post this as "Part 1" to keep it from turning into a longer-than-long post, and you can read Part 2 once I get it written.  Plus I have some little people that need some adult encouragement to stay focused on their work. :)