In case you've missed it on Facebook, Caleb has arrived! I always love when my friends share their birth stories on blogs so I'm thrilled to get to do it here. At the advice of a friend I'm adding a disclaimer. If you're close to delivering your own bundle of joy you might want to hold off on reading until after your sweet one has arrived. My story has some scary moments - even though it all ends well. (It ends very well - with the cutest baby boy ever!)
Monday, July 16th: I had a dr's appointment in the morning and was 1 cm dilated and 25% effaced. I began feeling contractions sometime in the afternoon. I knew it was just false labor because they never organized into a pattern and didn't grow in intensity. However, I noticed that I kept getting hotter and hotter as the day went on. DJ checked the a/c and was frustrated to discover that it had gone out. Again. (We just fixed it in May.) The a/c man came and said we had to have an entire new unit. I sat through contraction after contraction and tried to listen to what he was saying. We ended up borrowing a window unit from our neighbor so we could cool down the bedroom enough to sleep that night. The contractions stopped about 10:30 or 11:00 that night and I was able to sleep, hoping this baby would have an air conditioned house to come home to.
Tuesday, July 17th: The a/c people called and said that sadly, the part we needed was on back order. In Houston. And couldn't be shipped until Friday. Which meant we wouldn't get the new unit installed until Saturday. Grrrr!!! So we buckled down and set up camp in the bedroom. We told Caleb all day long that he couldn't come until we had a/c again. I could not fathom bringing home a baby to a house that reached 95+ each day.
Wednesday - Friday: Nothing exciting happened. I had a few contractions on and off but nothing to speak of. We got very restless very fast.
Saturday, July 21st: The a/c men showed up early in the morning and spent most of the day working to get it installed. We stayed put in the bedroom, eager to enjoy the rest of our house. At 4:30 I started feeling contractions. They weren't in much of a pattern so I didn't think anything of it. I don't think I even told DJ about it for quite a while. By 8:00 the house was finally cooling off and we made our way into the living room. We also started timing the contractions. We were shocked to discover that they were over a minute long and 4 minutes apart. However, I was still able to talk through them and didn't feel like the timing warranted a very expensive trip to the hospital. By 10:00 I was having trouble talking and really needed to focus to get through them. We were watching "Grease" and had to pause it every few minutes in order for me to work through a contraction. I don't think anyone's ever taken so long to get through that movie! :) Just about the time the contractions would get in a solid, predictable pattern, we'd have 10 or 15 minutes that threw the whole thing off. By 11:00 we were feeling like maybe this wasn't false labor but we still weren't sure. I called the on-call doctor, sure he'd say that because they weren't in a perfect pattern I should stay put. He told us to head on in and he'd meet us there. We took our dear sweet time getting out the door. We straightened the bedroom, finished packing our bags, loved on the dogs, DJ took a shower, etc.
Sunday, July 22nd: At 12:45 we checked into the hospital. They got me hooked up to monitors and made me lay down because my blood pressure was elevated. (Of course!) When they checked, I was 3cm and 50% effaced. I was thrilled that I'd made so much progress since Monday. By that point we began to realize that maybe this was real and we really were going to have a baby soon.
We labored for 4 hours, certain we were making lots of progress. When they checked me again, I hadn't made any progress. My heart was just a little sad. The doctor felt that because my blood pressure wasn't coming down and we were contracting regularly, it was best to start pitocin in order to get things moving a little faster. We fought through 4 hours of horrible pitocin pain. I felt a constant level of pain, not the typical waves of contractions. When the doctor came to check me I was confident that this time there'd be progress and we'd be moving closer to having a baby. I was crushed when there was still no progress. He tried to break my water, but Caleb was still too high and the sack had no tension. Much to our dismay, the doctor urged us to get an epidural. He needed to double my pitocin levels and was worried about my blood pressure climbing too high. I cried quite hard that I wouldn't have the natural childbirth I was planning on, but agreed that it was for the best. Right before the anesthesiologist put the epidural in, I ran to the bathroom one last time. As I was walking back to bed, my water broke. I was thrilled! It was one thing I had really wanted to experience on my own and God was gracious enough to give it to me.
The epidural wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared. It allowed me to relax and DJ and I both got a little nap. (We had been up all night laboring.) Within 20 minutes of the epidural going in, I was dilated to 5cm and 100% effaced. Within a few hours I was at 10cm. After a few set backs it was finally time to start pushing! I was going to have a baby by dinner time!
We pushed for an hour and a half and I was so deeply proud of myself for being what the nurse deemed a "great pusher"! The doctor came in to see how much progress we'd made. Sadly, Caleb's head was stuck and wasn't coming down very fast. The doctor felt very confident that he was facing sideways and couldn't be delivered naturally. So he ordered forceps in the hopes that he could be turned and we'd still get a vaginal birth. After several minutes of working with the forceps (during which I was so deeply thankful for the epidural) the doctor sat back in frustration. It wasn't working. Caleb's head was turned and not only was he sideways - his head wasn't coming straight down. It would be literally impossible for me to deliver vaginally. A c-section was the only option.
I, of course, was heart broken. This was NOT what we'd planned on and dreamed of. Suddenly, our room became a hub of activity. In the midst of it all I suddenly sat straight up (although I'm not sure how with the strong epidural pumping through my back) and began throwing up violently. I had no idea I could get that sick that fast. My nurse rubbed my back and looked concerned. She gave me anti-nausea medicine and promised it would all be over soon.The anesthesiologist came in to increase my epidural for surgery. As he put a booster in the line, I suddenly felt a pain like I've never felt before. My legs and lower back felt like they were on fire, and there was a horrible pain in my upper right side. I immediately began screaming and crying. DJ rushed to my side and begged the nurse for answers and relief. I did my best to describe the pain, but there really weren't words to describe what I was feeling. Within seconds, the nurse began screaming for more nurses and began unplugging machines as quickly as possible. Chaos erupted and we began to panic. Suddenly, I could no longer hear Caleb's heart beat and I was being whisked out the door to the OR without a chance to say good-bye to DJ. I heard the nurses say just enough to know that I was utterly terrified. I screamed in pain all the way down the hall (I'm sure I terrified all the other women in labor!) and shook all over in fear. After what felt like hours I was all set up in the OR and DJ was finally allowed by my side. We prayed and cried together as the operation began. Somewhere in the midst of everything they finally gave me enough medicine that I wasn't feeling pain, but I was still scared to death. I was sure that Caleb had died and I wasn't far behind.
At 6:33 pm, after 26 hours of labor, I felt DJ squeeze my hand and laugh. Then, I heard a cry that made all the pain and fear disappear. I got a quick glimpse of a squirmy, bloody 8lb 10oz baby over the curtain before they whisked him off to be cleaned and weighed. My first thought was that he looked exactly like the 3D ultra sound pictures we'd seen a few days before.
DJ got to put his first diaper on and comfort him as he was measured (21" long). When I finally got to meet my sweet Caleb, he was still fussing a little. DJ held him up next to my face and the second I started talking, he immediately calmed down and just looked at my face. It was a moment I'll never forget!
In the hours after the c-section we began to put the pieces of the puzzle together. About the time we decided Caleb wasn't coming on his own, my placenta decided it was done. When all was said and done I had a 10% placental abruption. Basically, the placenta began to separate before it was done doing the work it needed to do. Without the c-section, Caleb and I both would have died quickly. My nurse realized that the odd combination of symptoms was a big red flag and literally saved our lives. We will forever be thankful!
It's been a week and a half since Caleb was born and we're settling into life with a newborn. We have taken a million photos and I'll post some of them soon. We're shocked by how much we love the newest member of our family. He is a genuinely good baby and hardly ever cries or fusses. He is proving to be a good sleeper - literally an answer to prayer.
Thank you to all of those who have prayed for us through this entire journey - from struggling to conceive to long bouts of morning sickness to a very difficult labor. Let the adventure begin!