Friday, September 23, 2016

The Aftermath

I had had my VBAC. I should have felt elated it. I had done "it"! The thing physicians don't "let" women do! I had a cesarean, and then a vaginal birth!

I had pre-eclampsia, and then a normal birth!

I should have felt such satisfaction over what I had accomplished, but I didn't. I felt like a failure.

For almost the entire laboring process, I felt like I couldn't do it. Then I did it, but I felt like I couldn't take ownership of that win because I hadn't charged in with my mind set and determined that I would be victorious. I basically just floundered my way through it while my inner dialogue was negative.

Because of that, I felt like I couldn't celebrate. My sister Kari, who rarely left my side throughout the entire process hugged me and said, "You did it! You got your VBAC!" and I said "Yeah, by the skin of my teeth." I could tell she was not happy that I wasn't celebrating. I felt unworthy.

We were transferred to another room in the middle of my meal. I was dying to see Shepherd but they wouldn't let him up because of flu season - ugh. But our nurses made a quick meeting in the hallway happen. I missed my boy.

We spent three nights in the hospital, fighting against jaundice (again!!!!!) but were finally released as long as we promised to go to the doctor the next morning. Her levels were still too high the next morning so we were readmitted less than 24 hours later into the hospital here in Hanford, so that she could do light therapy. I was alone, extremely emotional and was going on five days with little to no sleep. I took pictures and sent them to Bryan.

Still healing, bleeding and extremely sore, on my own in a hospital. Lauriana would just scream and scream in the light box, so we ended up moving the light over me. I was up basically all night. I kept the light over us, did lots of skin to skin. Lots of nursing. I was using the shield because I was having the same issues I had with Shepherd. We got her tongue tie checked in the hospital but the doctor didn't feel there was an issue.

We would struggle for four more months before going to have her tongue tie addressed, but our struggles didn't end there. Everything with this girl, from labor, to breastfeeding, to sleeping is hard fought. 

It's so hard to celebrate the wins when you feel like such a failure. Something that is so natural and part of every day life shouldn't be so difficult. So why is it for me? Why does the entire journey have to be hard? Can't a girl catch a break? 

Apparently not. This was just the beginning. 2016 held some of the highest of highs, and lowest of lows. I have felt like a failure as a mom, a woman and as a career woman. I have been knocked down countless times this year, but have soldiered on. 

Because, I mean, what other option is there? 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Lauriana Jean

**The photos below are of a real life, total normal birth. This is womanhood and shouldn't require a disclaimer. Seeing birth should be as normal as watching a sunrise. However....if you needed a warning, this is it. 

I remember looking at the clock right before starting to push and thinking, okay, like ten minutes and I'll be done. Just have to get through this. 

Two hours later, the small amounts of energy I had gathered from resting was gone. I had been given oxygen in between pushes because I was starting to have mini panic attacks but Bryan and Chanah would talk me down after pushing.

My sister and Chanah kept telling me I was so close, SO CLOSE, There came a time where I just wanted to scream that I didn't feel close! I mean, goodness. I could feel that I was making progress but for heavens sakes - they made it seem like she was practically out already! But soon enough, they started saying that her head was crowning. 

I worked hard to get her head and shoulders out. It took everything I had to push her out, but once the shoulders were out, I was basically done. I could feel her just....fall out. 

The cord was wrapped around her neck and they were very concerned that it had been almost 24 hours since my water broke. They wouldn't let her cord pulse, unfortunately, and I wasn't able to do the breast crawl. They let me see her face for a moment and then took her to check vitals. 

Bryan didn't want to leave me, but we have a rule that he goes where the baby goes. No matter what. He had to reassure me first, but he did end up walking over to make sure Lauriana was safe.

I had to deliver the placenta and get stitched up, which was a cake walk, basically. except that the doctor pulled on the cord and I was not stoked on that. One of the main reasons I wanted to have a natural birth was because I wanted to feel what it was like after birth. You know, the high I've heard so much about. 

Welp, I did have an epidural for a while so I'm sure some was still in my system, but it was INCREDIBLE. I felt amazing once it was done. I just wanted my girl and some food. I also missed Shepherd intensely. 

Finally though, I was given my girl. 

I did it. She was finally here. And she's perfect.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I Can't Do This...

It was my slogan the entire time I was in labor. "I can't do this." I would go so far as to say that my life, as a whole, can be summed up in this statement. Picture this: in every single season, at every single stage, me simply saying, "I can't do this" while soldiering on anyways. It doesn't matter whether I can or can't do one thing or another. It will happen regardless. And so I press on.

For most of the day on Saturday, Bryan and I labored in our room. For whatever reason, it was the place that I wanted to be. Chanah had Bryan and I do some side-laying exercises that are proven to help the baby get positioned on the cervix better and man did they HURT. I was crying out in pain, the contractions were so intense. My sisters fed Shepherd and made sure he was taken care of and after lunch, he went to be with Papa. I had to reassure him multiple times that Momma was fine and that my loud noises were normal. A cesarean is gross in its own way, but I was not mentally prepared for the stuff that would precede the baby...if you know what I mean. Bryan was so, so great though. He helped to keep me clean and we labored for a long time.

The problem was that I still had not eaten, had water or slept. When someone would talk to me in between contractions, I would just utter (over and over again) that I couldn't do it. I can't do this. I couldn't continue. I was so tired. I just needed sleep first. So thirsty. If I could just rest... I was getting so dehydrated that my lips started peeling badly. They were so chapped, that I would rub them and the skin would just peel off. I asked for chapstick and kept applying, but it wasn't enough.

During this time, they tried to get me to sip on some Pepsi. They hoped that it would help give me a jolt. It mostly just made me throw up. Soon after Shepherd left, we were discussing the options. Considering that I had been in early labor since Friday morning and active later since Friday evening, with no sustenance or rest, my midwife believed the best thing to do would be to transfer to the hospital. It was about 3:30pm on Saturday at this point, if I remember correctly. When she checked me, I was almost an eight. She was very concerned that I wouldn't have the strength I needed to get through transition and push the baby out. All of the hard work was ahead of me and I was running on empty.

Bryan and I ultimately heeded her advice. We packed up everything in moments and headed to Fresno. Alison was going out of town that day so she helped close down the house along with my other midwife and Kari. Chanah jumped in her car very soon after Bryan and I left the house and Kari would follow later.

The ride to the hospital was excruciating. Every bump along the way was felt by ever inch of my body. By the time we got there, got out of the car, parked, signed all the documents and got undressed in triage, it was about 6pm. My contractions had slowed a bit, but the baby was totally healthy. I threw up in triage and they hooked me up to an IV right away, because of the dehydration.

When they checked me, they said I was about a 4-5. I know that the cervix can close up when women are transferring, but I was disappointed anyways. Bryan reassured me that when we were settled and I had some rest that I'd bounce back.

I obviously don't have many pictures of this, but I do have a lot from after I got the epidural. Bryan, Kari and Chanah stayed with me the entire time, with Kari only leaving to go downstairs to nurse Elliot and eat with Adam. She also brought Bryan some food, which he appreciated. We had to fight the entire time for me to get some sleep - since that was the entire point of going to the hospital. I needed fluids and I needed rest. I was able to get some, but it wasn't enough.

Our nurse was amazing though,and we soldiered on into another night. We did different positions on the bed to help Lauriana drop and she even had me do some pushes to help things along. I was starting to get a migraine from not sleeping and eating for so long, so they let me have some broth. It took the edge off. The epidural I received wasn't typical. The machine wasn't on continually dripping... if that is the right word for it. So the anesthesiologist would just come and give me a bolus of the epidural infusion as needed. He came in three times. Once when it was first put in, once when they were not letting me rest and then gave me a half when we bartered to get a two hour block of sleep. It was important to me that I could feel what I was doing when showtime came along.

I had a resident doctor and she was extremely pushy but I didn't find her to be unkind. There was one moment when the nurses shift change came up and this boisterous head nurse came in and flipped on the lights in the middle of a short nap and said loudly, "Let's get this thing in gear. Either you can have a few hours of pain now or a few hours of pain later but either way, it's happening." Or something to that affect. Kari about flipped her LID. She was like, excuse me, we are trying to have a specific atmosphere in here and it would be nice if we could turn off the lights so she can concentrate. I was still singing the same ol' tune, that I couldn't do this, and Kari was trying to get my mind right.

She came to me and Bryan and said that she and Chanah had bartered for as much time as we were going to get and it was time to make a decision, either I needed to request a cesarean or get to pushing. Bryan told me that he couldn't ask me to go any further. He left it up to me and damn, did I want a VBAC.

So, I told Kari to ask the doctor for another half hour so that I could wash my face and wake up. I told Kari that I just needed to get pumped. I was like, I gotta get psyched and get this to happen. I'm gonna DO THIS! We started the long road into pushing. I pushed for like... two and a half hours. I remember looking at the clock and being like, omg this is taking SO LONG. The epidural was gone and I could feel everything and my renewed sense of self quickly drained away into a puddle of emotion and tiredness. In between pushes, I resumed my prior stance: I can't do this.

In the last hour, I started to lose my shit. I was starting to panic after every push. Chanah and Bryan would help to calm me down and I locked onto Chanah's voice. After the push, I would freak out for a few seconds and she would start to talk and I would just go limp, almost as if in a trance. I had to let go completely and she helped me to just detach.

When the baby started to crown and I was working on getting her head out, I was starting to hyperventilate because home girl was not breathing right. So, I got myself a pretty oxygen mask. I didn't let that deter me. I would do two or three pushes and then relax. I got into a rhythm.

I didn't find this out until later, but was the baby was crowning and the doctor was stretching me (soon a huge rush of people would come into the room preparing for the babies imminent arrival) Chanah say the doctor give me lidocaine and Chanah was pissed. She innocently asked "what is that for?" and the doctor said, oh I can see she is going to need an episiotomy. Kari, who was standing by Bryan but farther towards my head, practically yelled, "Megan, the doctor is going to give you an episiotomy, you have to give your consent. MEGAN DO YOU GIVE YOUR CONSENT?!" and right before the onset of a huge contraction, I yelled, "NO EPISIOTOMY." and pushed as hard as I could.

Well. I didn't know that I had been given lidocaine. And when you have skin that is stretched beyond belief so that a HUMAN CAN PASS THROUGH IT and you suddenly pump it full of 10 cc's of fluid, you know what skin does? It explodes. And that's what happened.

But it didn't matter at that moment. Lauriana's head came out, quickly followed by her shoulders and suddenly, the pain was gone.

The girl who couldn't, did.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Into the Night...

I labored for a long time in the living room. Around me, my sisters put Shepherd to bed, the midwives set up the birthing tub. It's all fuzzy now. After the living room, I labored a long, long time in the bathroom on the toilet, while Bryan timed them. 

Once the tub was ready, I got in. I was looking for relief. We had moved into the later hours of the night, possibly even early morning and I hadn't had a moments rest. We were all hoping that the water would help things continue to move along, but would allow me to relax and possibly even snooze. While I labored, Bryan played his guitar, supported me, my sisters and niece slept, my midwives waited, and they all tried to get me to hydrate.

Finally, it was time to come out. I had been in the tub for a really, really long time and it seemed that it was stalling my labor more than anything. I was ready for this to be done. In the moment, I thought that I was getting close, I couldn't fathom it going on much longer. Ha! I was used to my sisters quick and intense labors. I had no idea that I was still days away from having our girl. While I wasn't anywhere close, things had definitely become more intense. All of a sudden, I was really feeling it. We thought for a moment it was transition, but I don't know if I got scared and stopped it or I was just really mistaken. I was throwing up every sip of water and light piece of food they were giving me. I was running out of energy and it was starting to take its toll. 

After the birthing tub, I put on a robe, but the wet sports bra was making me shiver, so it didn't last long. I stayed on the birthing stool for a long time, while they continually tried to feed me crackers, cucumber and water. Everything came back up. I remember wondering if I needed to push, but the feeling passed. Things quieted down and Bryan and I went to bed, praying we could both get some sleep. 

As we laid down, we would both fall asleep but thing I would be violently pulled from sleep by a contraction. Over an over again, when my body would finally come to rest and slip into sleep, I would be ripped out of it. It was like torture. Bryan tried to keep me calm, because I was freaking out. I couldn't labor because I was so tired, but I couldn't sleep because I was in labor. 

Somewhere in there, we got up and took a long shower together. We laid back down but again, I couldn't rest. My midwife did not check me often, but I was dilating slowly but surely. At 7:30am on Saturday, when she checked me to see how far along we were, my water broke. The clock was ticking.