Tuesday, March 9, 2010

See it in a new sun rising

Parker’s Birth Story
Since my first son, Caden, was born by emergency c-section I’ve known I wanted to try for a VBAC. I wasn’t angered by my c-section and I didn’t have grief - Caden’s birth was necessary for both of us and after the months of bed rest and preparing for a premature baby, ending with a full term, healthy, perfect little boy trumped incisions and everything else for me… but I knew that should my next pregnancy be free of complications and allow, I wanted a VBAC and I was determined. I assumed that preeclampsia or kidney issues or skyrocketing blood pressure might take that chance away, but I never imagined ended up on the operating room table at 41 weeks, 1 day with absolutely no progressing toward labor what so ever.

The months before Parker’s delivery were spent reading and preparing and the weeks before delivery were spent doing everything we could think of to encourage Parker to join us. Capsules, teas, pineapple, exercise balls, visualizations, stairs, walking, sex, a full moon, a blue moon, a snowstorm... I started to feel like I was living a birth inspired Dr. Seuss book - “full moons and blue moons and even letting Daddy do as he please, couldn’t and wouldn’t encourage Parker to leave!”. Eventually I began to bargain with the baby, beg the birthing gods, and even attempted to sway Muphy’s law “Maybe if I don’t shave my legs for a while…..” None of it did anything. At 39 weeks I ended up with one hell of a stomach virus and as I placed a call to my OB at 11:30pm sure I was on my death bed my OB joked “Hopefully this should send you into labor!” - It didn’t.. and I am sure I’d prefer a c-section to laboring through that hellish experience anyway.

At that point I was just miserable. I was angry and snappy that I wasn’t even progressing despite the daily onslaught of Braxton hicks contractions. I was upset. Finally, toward the end of my 39th week, I realized I was most upset that my perfect pregnancy - the one I beat all the odds with… no bed rest, no preeclampsia despite my multiple risk factors, no gestational diabetes despite my PCOS, no kidney issues.. Was now overshadowed by this. I loved every minute of my pregnancy - I got to do all the things I didn’t with Caden. I had adorable clothes and loved showing off my big round belly in public even if it did result in stares at the end. We took maternity photos and did a belly cast (haha) and went on vacation. We have photos of my belly with pumpkins at the pumpkin patch and I ached for days after a marathon Christmas shopping session. I got to do all that I missed out on when I was pregnant with my first. And now I was just a big crabby pregnant woman because my cervix wouldn’t budge and my baby was floating and nothing was happening - and no matter what I did I had no control over the situation. So I took control back. I decided that I wasn’t going to allow this to cast a shadow over the last few moments I had with my sweet little boy wiggling and bumping and pushing inside me. I was going to enjoy those last days with my first little boy as my only, I was going to sit back and soak in those last moments as a family of 3. I’d keep on doing what we had been in hopes that labor would come soon but I wasn’t going to focus on it and if it wasn’t meant to be, then it wasn’t. In the end as long as my baby and myself were healthy and happy that was most important. What I wanted was a non-traumatic birth with a happy ending. I didn’t want another induction (not that it was an option anyway with a completely unfavorable cervix and all). Finally I felt like I regained control, I was happy, and those last days of my pregnancy were spent in the same bliss that I found myself in the months before.

At my 40 week appt I had an NST and the normal routine. My blood pressure was high - it had been borderline for weeks but now it was over that line. Parker did okay on the NST and the AFI was at the low end (exactly) of normal. I was to come back that Friday, 3 days later, for another AFI and a blood pressure check. My c-section was scheduled for the next Monday, January 11th, in the event I didn’t go into labor on my own before then and now with my blood pressure even higher and other info received that date remained - going any further posed to many risks in my mind and my doctors, especially with my BP. I laid down for a few minutes and luckily my blood pressure went down enough that I was able to go home with instructions to continue monitoring.
I went to my final appointment a few days later - my fluid measurements remained the same at 8 so my doctors were okay letting me go the weekend. My BP was good enough to wait, too.

With Caden I was induced on a Monday and he was born just after midnight Wednesday morning. We were exhausted and worn out and I looked just terrible - the photos we have that include Steve and I from his birth are traumatic themselves. So I decided that if I was going to end up with a c-section this time I was going in prepared. Friday after my appointment I went in to have my hair done and the day before that was a Mani-pedi. Saturday we spent running errands and I bought another nursing gown to wear in the hospital since it was starting to look like we’d spend a few more days there than we had planned. We stocked up on groceries for Caden (MIL was staying at our house with him half the time, the other he was going to my Mom’s) and for when we got home. Sunday was reserved for cleaning - I never did get that nesting urge that I so longed for so there was a lot to do…. Instead we spent the day in our jammies sprawled out in the living room building block towers with Caden. Before we knew it evening had come and it was time to get to work. We let Caden stay up a little late and then I tucked him into bed and crawled in with him for a few minutes of simple snuggles, then Steve and I finished up around the house, packed the last few things we needed for the hospital. In-between all that I took a few long walks along our cold snowy streets with my neighbor in hopes that just maybe Parker would make his entrance on his own… he didn’t.

Monday, January 11, 2010.
We didn’t crawl into bed until well after midnight so morning came early. I still had hopes that just maybe I’d be woken by contractions but at 5:30am the alarm went off and I got in the shower. The morning was quiet - the news played in the background and Caden was still sleeping. I did my hair an makeup, got dressed, and admired my big round belly in the mirror one last time. MIL arrived around 7:15am and I woke Caden up for some last minute snuggles and Steve loaded the car - we needed to be to the hospital by 8am. A little after 7:30am we said our good byes and headed on our way.

When we got to the hospital my Mom was already waiting for us in the lobby. The intention was that she would be with us before surgery but as we checked in we learned that wasn’t possible. She sat with us as we checked in and then headed to take care of some errands and stop by to see Caden until she could come see us. After all the questions were answered and lines signed, bracelets were placed on mine and Steve’s wrists and we headed into the Maternity center.

The halls were quiet and empty as we made our way through. As we were led back toward the surgical section of the ward a nurse stopped and asked us our names
“Just who I was looking for!” she responded and instead led us to our suite where we would be doing pre-op and as long as everything went fine, post op as well. This was also the room we would spend out first days with our sweet little boy.

The rooms at our hospital are beautiful - large with stone bathrooms, toiletries laid on the counter, real furniture. There is a huge window and the morning light was pouring in over a blanket of soft white snow outside. It was kind of surreal standing there - after all these months, a year and a half.. I finally arrived.

I changed into my gown and climbed into bed and nurse put the IV into my arm. I texted my friend and chatted with Steve while we monitored the baby and myself. I was having all the Braxton hicks that I had been but still no progress. My only “regret” from the birth of my child came from now - I was so wrapped up in the c-section I didn’t see the joy that was that morning. I wish I had the smiling pics of us pre surgery, I wish I wasn’t so… not myself. Eventually I did let my guard down a little though and we laughed and joked with my nurse, who might I add was fantastic.

My OB, Dr. L1, came in a short time later and we chatted while she filled out some paper work and finally the time came to head to the OR. I asked if I had control of any musical choices and I did, but my other OB, Dr L2, had requested a specific OR that had the best layout for me to be able to see the warmer after the baby was born - I asked him to be able to see the warmer and he said he’d do his best, that it all depended on how far they could stretch the cord from the outlet. He proceeded to go in and choose the OR with the best option for this - but it was one without a CD player.

Finally we were ready and we began the walk down to the OR - Steve came with us half way but had to wait until the spinal was administered to come in.
I climbed onto the table and everyone said hello and was so friendly and kind. They placed warm blankets over me and the anesthesiologist explained everything again. I rolled onto my side and started to cry. My nurse came over and grabbed my hand and then my OB came over and held the other. There was a pinch that wasn’t pleasant as I was numbed and then I was warned there would be pressure and I braced myself for what I remembered after getting multiple lumbar punctures in the past… but I felt nothing. No pressure, no pain.. I was shocked when it was done.

What came next was the only downside to the whole experience really - when they were doing my catheter my knees were bent and as the spinal took hold it was the last feeling my brain remembered. I wanted them straight and had a minor freak out trying to straighten them and not being able to - the reality is that they were straight, my brain just didn’t register that and it was stressful not to be able to move my legs. Finally I calmed down and somewhere in-between surgery began. Steve sat at my head and held my hand.

The anesthesiologist would occasionally adjust the oxygen mask in front of my face (I didn’t have to wear it) and it would remind me to breath - as the minutes passed I realized I was holding my breath.

Welcome to the world, sweet baby
In all the months we tried to get pregnant I’d imagine that day I’d get my BFP and cry - I’d dream of every milestone a pregnancy would bring and the tears would roll off my face. But the afternoon I got that BFP my face was dry - I was excited and shaking and so incredibly happy, but the tears never came. I assumed once I saw that beautiful flicker on a black and white ultrasound screen I’d finally be able to cry in relief as I dreamed I would… but when the day came the tears still did not. I spent so many of those early weeks waiting - waiting to be able to sigh that breath of relief but instead I sat in quiet reservation, almost waiting for the other shoe to drop. The NT ultrasound, the 20 weeks, making it past where I got sick with Caden, blood tests, kicks and bumps and wiggles… I’d take a breath and move onto the next step.

The minutes passed and I heard a tiny voice for a split second - he hadn’t even been born and only his head was out, but I knew that sound - that amazing, beautiful sound. I knew who that was and I felt a few tears roll off my face. I took a breath and held it once more. I heard someone mention the cord around his neck and to hold on as they unwrapped it. There was commotion and then there was noise - a loud, strong, beautiful cry of a life that just entered this world - That seconds before existed only within me. He sounded different than Caden - deeper. 3 years later and I could still remember exactly how my first baby’s first cry sounded.

The curtain dropped and I saw my beautiful, messy, perfect baby crying with his face all scrunched up and it was everything I ever dreamed. I finally exhaled and I just sobbed. I cried and cried - for all of it. I finally allowed myself to release every tear that never came - for the positive pregnancy tests, the flicker of a 6 week old heart beat, a healthy baby, for my beautiful, perfect, sweet little boy. And in the bright lights of that sterile operating room on that cold winter morning, with my husband at my newborn baby’s side and my first little boy safely at home, I smiled and all was right with the world. My sweet Parker was finally here and healthy - born at 9:59am, 7lbs, 14oz, 19.5 inches with Apgars of 9 and 9.Parker was then brought over to me - I wrapped my arm around him and snuggled my face to him and reveled in that moment for what seemed like days.

Steve went to the nursery with Parker and the anesthesiologist said he was going to give me something to take a short nap until I got back to my room. He put something into my IV - a minute or so passed and I was still asking my OBs all about what they were up to down there and I simply heard him say “maybe not”.
My doctors made mention of how nicely I heal and that my ovaries and tubes looked fantastic so that was a definite perk to the c-section.

Before long I was done and it was time to head back to my room - everything went perfectly so I didn’t have to go to recovery and was able to be monitored in my suite. We got back to the room before Parker was done in the nursery so my nurse slid the phone over to me so I could make calls if I wanted. I called my Dad and then my Mom and let her know she could come up in a few - and I heard her tears through the phone.

It was mere minutes that passed but it felt like hours while I had my eyes glued on the door. Finally it swung open and there stood a nurse “is that my baby!?” I sat up a little disappointed to only see her. She stepped into the room and behind her walked Steve pushing a bassinet. He lifted up a tiny little body and smiled, “he is like a feather”. He then placed that tiny little life in my arms and I was finally home.

Those first hours
At one point Parker started to cry and I snuggled him close and whispered to him as I did with Caden and he instantly calmed down. In so many ways I couldn’t and still can’t remember Caden as a baby, so it was amazing how every thing came flooding back to me. I smelled Parker’s sweet smell, I stroked his chubby cheek, and I took every bit of him in. And then I put him to my breast and he latched on immediately and perfectly. I thought Caden was easy to nurse but Parker had it down from the start.

Before long my Mom was here and she got to snuggle her newest grandbaby. A nurse soon walked in with a beautiful bouquet of white roses, blue delphinium, and a balloon from Steve and my Mom came with roses, clothes, and lots of yummy snacks.
I had requested before the surgery to be present for Parker’s first bath so the nursery brought down a warmer and once his temp was up they cleaned him and placed his beautiful warm body back into my arms.

We took pictures and texted and her husband, Charlie, came by to meet the littlest man, too. They didn’t stay long but their visit was nice and I was so proud to show off my littlest man.

After my Mom and Charlie left, the monitors turned off and the nurses gone, it was just the three of us. I sat and snuggled Parker and Steve and I smiled down at our little boy. As we were getting out of the car that morning I hit eject on the CD player and grabbed the first CD that popped out. We put it in the CD player, pressed play, and just sat in complete awe of the day with the music playing softly in the background - just the three of us on that perfect afternoon. The CD was Coldplay, X & Y and to this day Parker still quiets down and listens contently when every they are played.

The rest of the day we requested no visitors. It was just us and it was just perfect. Watching my husband take care of our son and take care of me I fell in love with him all over again. As a 2nd time dad he was completely at peace and comfortable in his new role - changing diapers, snuggling Parker close. He kept calling Parker his little peanut and couldn’t get over how light he was after living with an almost 3 year old. I couldn’t get over how blessed I was, how perfect this all turned out, and how every step along this path, every tear and every joy, more than paid off in the end. And for those hours on that cold winter day the world seemed still outside or door and nothing bad or imperfect could ever make its way in.

The days to follow.
The remainder of our stay in the hospital was a blur. Tuesday was non stop visitors but luckily that slowed down on Wednesday. At only 25 hours old Parker had his very first picture session and we cried when we saw the photos. He was so alert when he was awake and you could see him taking in every bit of his new surroundings just as we were taking in every bit of him. We were floating and so in love with this little being and so blissfully happy - I found myself feeling guilty at times that it wasn’t like this with Caden. We were exhausted and overwhelmed and hadn’t slept in days during his birth and while we were still in complete and utter amazement and love with him, this was just.. Different. We were calm, relaxed, rested and every bit of our souls poured onto our brand new baby boy. And with every second that passed I thanked the lord for how incredibly blessed I am.

Recovery for me went well and I was up and running as soon as they took that IV out of my arm. I did my hair and my makeup and changed my clothes. I sat and visited and was glowing and so very proud. I did have some pain issues late Tuesday night as the cocktail of meds and painkillers that were in my spinal fully wore off and I realized just how much I had been overdoing it, but an adjustment in pain meds and the promise to take it a little more easy and I was back to feeling alright. Around that time my blood pressure also started to skyrocket getting dangerously high at times on top of the previously HBP from the last weeks of my pregnancy. Luckily it came down enough and stabilized that while still high and still hypertension, I wouldn’t need to be put on meds at that point, and, after my eclampsia panel came back clear, I would be able to go home with some additional appointments and at home monitoring 3 times daily. By my 6 week check up my blood pressure had started to go back down and was out of hypertension and slowly returning to normal.

Steve and I would walk the halls of the maternity center with our baby boy in his bassinet. It was still so surreal to be back there. We walked past the suite we stayed in when Caden was born. We walked into the labor and delivery wing and past the room I had labored in almost 3 years prior. We walked and talked and smiled at all of our dreams for the future - for Caden, for us, and for this sweet new life sleeping soundly in the bassinet in front of us.

Visitor restrictions due to H1N1 prevented Caden from visiting us in the hospital and it broke my heart and was something I was very stressed out over leading up to Parker’s birth. Originally we were under the assumption that he would be able to come to the lobby and I could go out and see him, but in the end that wasn’t a possibility anyway. Steve had said there were a bunch of clearly sick people sitting out there one evening anyway (they had been denied entrance due to symptoms) so he wouldn’t have wanted me to go anyway. I broke down sobbing once after talking to Caden on the phone but he was fine and having fun and Grandma made sure to send photos. In the end I am actually kind of glad it worked out this way - while I would have loved to have been able to see Caden in the hospital and missed him terribly, we were allowed some time for just Parker that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. It helped that in the end Caden wasn’t the least bit upset. He was very happy to come home and see his Mommy and Daddy and was so in love with his baby brother once he met him, but he wasn’t upset or angry.

Heading Home
Finally Thursday came and we were all clear to go home, though it didn’t happen until 6pm that evening. Packing our belongings, signing the forms… it was bittersweet. I couldn’t wait to take my baby home, to see my little boy, to finally begin our journey as a family of four… but at the same time I couldn’t believe it was time. That the BFP, the pregnancy, the delivery, had all come and gone. That my sweet baby was here and healthy and so perfect.. And that he was already old enough to go home. I was sad to already see the days passing so quickly. Life after Caden was born moved faster than I could imagine. My pregnancy had come and gone in the blink of an eye. I knew that these next moments would pass all too quickly.

We picked up dinner on the way home and called my mom to bring Caden home to us. We quickly ate while Parker slept. I nursed him and snuggled him into his bouncer just in time for Caden to arrive. Caden was so happy to see his mommy and Daddy and beyond thrilled when he saw his baby brother. He kneeled down in front of Parker’s bouncer and peered in at him, “Hi baby!” he chimed as he blew Parker a kiss. He was so interested in this little person, just as we were, and has been every since. The love he has for his baby brother melts my heart. We did have issues with a bit of jealousy, especially when I would nurse Parker, but as the weeks passed things improved daily and were never “bad” to begin with. I have been impressed at just how well Caden.. All of us… are adjusting overall.

Steve was home with us for 2.5 weeks total and it was wonderful to sit held up in our house just the four of us. I will always remember those days and just how perfect they were. No obligations, no phone calls, just us and our boys snuggled up in pure bliss. I had looked forward to those days just the four of us my entire pregnancy and they were wonderful.

The days since
Eventually Steve returned to work and life has settled into our new sense of normal and we’re learning how to do things all over again once more. We definitely lucked out and Parker is a ridiculously easy baby. He loves snuggles and being held, currently snuggled into my chest, and while this makes it difficult to accomplish a whole lot some days we are more than happy to oblige. I find it all too easy to get lost in his big, dark eyes and he is always smiling and cooing. I am so very proud of both of my boys and couldn’t imagine a happier ending to this chapter of our lives and I am so incredibly happy and excited to begin the next.

Looking back
While a repeat c-section clearly wasn’t what I had hoped for and definitely wasn’t what I had planned - I can honestly sit back and say I am happy with how everything played out in the end. There will always be a part of me that will wonder and wish my body would have gone into labor, but in the end I did everything I could. Had my blood pressure held out a bit longer, if my fluid levels had been a bit higher… I think I would have liked to wait it out at least a few more days. But after Caden and knowing the risks.. They weren’t ones I was willing to take and waiting longer wasn’t an option for even me.
My main wish regarding Parker’s birth was for us to be healthy and happy. I didn’t want a traumatic birth, I didn’t want days of exhaustion, I didn’t want any harm to him. After Caden’s birth I was still able to look back on that day and see it as the wonderful miracle it was. After all we had been through, he was safe and sound and that day was the best of my life. After hearing from other c-section moms who could only see grief and pain and disappointment, I was so happy that I could look back and see joy and beauty. My biggest fear with Parker’s birth was that I wouldn’t be able to look back on his birth and feel the same way. I loved being pregnant - every bit of it. I was so incredibly grateful to get to experience a normal, healthy pregnancy and for all the memories made in those 41 weeks. I was terrified my perfect pregnancy would end with trauma or disappointment. But it didn’t. The day Parker was born was more beautiful and perfect than I imagined.

We do want another child and have already talked among ourselves and my doctors about when, given our past and such. I’m undecided if when the time comes I’ll try for a VBA2C, or if its even an option. But if not I am okay with it. I’d actually prefer not to go through the stress of trying to put myself into labor again, to feel like I’m racing a clock, worrying about placentas and breech babies and everything else. Prior to Parker I didn’t see how birth without labor could feel right. I didn’t think I could be okay with it. But in the end I don’t see how his birth could have been anymore wonderful. In the end I am reminded that the manner in which a child is born is only one piece of the puzzle, that we all must play the hand that we are dealt, and that life is what you make of it.

Its taken me so long to finally allow myself the time to really sit down and write this out - I feel as though I should end it with some profound statement or quote - but everything to be said already has been. I suppose to anyone who made it this far I owe a thanks, but I feel I owe everyone who has supported us through this journey that and hope to have that support in the years to come.

I think back to this time a year ago - we were packing our bags and getting ready to head on our first trip to the dells. I was at the end of my first clomid cycle and in a week would start the cycle that would bring me to Parker, that would bring us all to today. I look back and smile though a little sad to realize at just how much Caden has grown in just one year - he was still such a baby then and now is so much a boy. I think to the future - to all the firsts that this new year has brought and will continue to bring. I think about our next trip to the dells and I dream of the day we do this all again. I pray that this pregnancy has worked more miracles than the one sleeping sweetly beside me, that perhaps I will be one of the lucky ones who had my cycles reset.

But most of all I look around me - at my two boys, my husband, so many sweet memories framed and hung proudly on our walls. I look around and am forever grateful for all that I have been given. And I am forever blessed.



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