Friday, March 18, 2011

The First Month

Captain Crankypants is absolutely refusing to spend this drab and cold afternoon napping, thus effectively ending my plans to nap, too. As a result, I am hoping he'll stay relatively content hanging out on the couch next to me while I write... The good news is that he should be exhausted enough to sleep well tonight, which means I may catch a few quality hours of sleep, too. Then again, he could continue to be fussy all night, which means no one in the house will sleep well (except, perhaps, Jynx the cat who doesn't seem to be bothered by baby cries).

My sweet and adorable baby boy is one month old today, and what a month it has been! Five weeks ago, I had an appointment with my regular obstetrician, at which point we discussed the probability that I had cervical stenosis, which is basically a constant muscle spasm holding my cervix closed that would be a result of scar tissue from my cervical cancer treatment in college. The good news is that the stenosis is most likely what kept me from going into full-blown pre-term labor. The bad news was that as the baby got heavier and lower (and let me tell you, he was already pretty low at this point -- not quite, but nearly fully engaged in the pelvis at 37 weeks), I would have a greater chance of the stenosis releasing and delivering in a rapid fashion considering that I was already fully effaced. At that appointment, we discussed the idea that an induction at 38 weeks might be a safer bet than waiting for me to go into labor on my own. If we were induced, we'd already be in a hospital under the doctor's care, and we wouldn't have to worry about labor progressing too quickly and not being able to get to the hospital in time. So, she called me back the next day with the news that our induction was scheduled for February 17th at 8:00 in the morning.

February 17th dawned clear and sunny. The projected temperature for the day was in the 70s, and Paul and I were a little disappointed that after a horrific winter of snow and ice, we would be spending the prettiest day of the year so far in a hospital room. Of course, knowing why we were going to be in the hospital room helped to soften the blow. We got to the hospital and met Angie, Paul's dad (who had driven up the day before), and Paul's mom. My mom was on her way, but we didn't expect her until around lunch time. She had originally planned to get up in the middle of the night and be at the hospital in the morning, but I convinced her to take her time since I didn't think I'd have the baby within the first few hours of being there. Dr. McCray had promised that I'd have at least an hour or two of pushing since I was a first-timer, so I knew that even if I walked in fully dilated, things wouldn't get too crazy before my mom could get there.

Paul, Angie, and I headed back to the labor and delivery area after establishing Paul's parents in the waiting room. The nurse got my IV inserted (oh, joy -- after not being able to get it going in my arm, she finally had to put it in my hand, which hurt. I referred to it throughout the day as my "twitch" -- I didn't notice the contractions as much because I was distracted by the discomfort of the IV) and checked to see how dilated I was. We turned on the radio and started just hanging out while we waited for the nurse to make contact with Dr. McCray. Good omen for the day #1 occurred then -- the song that Paul and I had in our wedding, "Keeper of the Stars," was the first song we noticed playing on the radio. At around 9:30, the nurse came back with news from the doctor -- they had decided to give me a pill called "cytotek," which was actually designed to get me to efface. Since I was already fully effaced, though, the idea was that it would start regular and productive contractions. The pill didn't really do anything for a few hours, and we were talking about doing another dose of it, when contractions started to happen pretty regularly (every 7 to 9 minutes). I managed to convince the nurse to let me have lunch at 11, even though both the nurse and Angie warned me against it. I just had the idea that this process was going to be a marathon rather than a sprint, and I knew that the pop-tart I'd inhaled at 6 that morning wasn't going to be enough to get me through. Paul, who has lots of experience dealing with me when my blood sugar is too low, also advocated for my lunch. The nurse called the doctor, who agreed to let me have a "light" lunch, which consisted of an awesome roast beef sandwich and soup. I enjoyed it immensely, even knowing that I would probably be tossing it back up at some point during the afternoon's entertainment.

Dr. McCray popped over around lunch time to check my progress -- unfortunately, I was still stuck at 1cm dilation, which is where I had been when I came in. The stenosis was doing its thing, even though I was having regular contractions. This was not unexpected, though, and she went ahead and did a "sweep" when she checked me -- basically, she got in there and tried to stretch out the muscle. The idea behind this was that once it got loose, it would open naturally due to the contractions. An hour later, I was only at 2...sigh. We talked then about our options -- she could send me home and see if nature took its course over the next day or so, or we could continue doing what we were doing and try to get me to dilate further through a combination of walking, squatting, and sitting on the birthing ball. She planned to break my water at some point, which would REALLY get things going, but she didn't want to do that until I was further dilated, because once the water's broken, there's no turning back. If I didn't dilate and my water had broken, we were looking at a higher risk of a c-section. Paul and I were in agreement that we weren't leaving the hospital without a baby, so we settled in for the afternoon and got to walkin', squattin', and ball-sittin'.

Callaway Community Hospital is built in a square shape, with wings going off two of the corners of the square. In the middle of the square is a beautiful courtyard with trees, picnic benches, bird feeders, and a walking path. Our fears about being stuck in the hospital room faded as we started walking the courtyard and enjoying the sunny afternoon. By this time, my mom had arrived, and we all spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine. I swear, I mut have logged miles walking that courtyard, but it really was a beautiful afternoon, and I was grateful not to be stuck in a bed. We also had good omen #2 during our walking -- as we were cruising around the court yard, a bald eagle flew overhead.

Around supper time (which I didn't get, drat it), I had only dilated to 5cm, so Dr. McCray and my birth team decided to go ahead and break my water. At this time, I decided that I wanted a little something to take the edge off the pain, since I knew that once my water was broken, the contractions would start coming much fast and with more intensity. Since Angie had received NuBane during her labor and had good luck with it, that's what I decided to go with -- according to Angie, it just took away the worst of the pain and let her focus on labor. I still hadn't gotten to get in the jacuzzi for my labor, but the nurse promised that once the doctor had broken my water and the labor started in real earnest, I could get in. I was holding off on the real good drugs (like an epidural), since if I went for that pain med, I would definitely be stuck in bed until the baby made his grand debut. Unfortunately, once the NuBane hit my system, my entire world went fuzzy. It seemed to have the opposite effect on me that it had on Angie -- I didn't notice any break in the pain level, but I no longer had any ability to focus. I also lost all control over my coordination, and I plopped my fanny in the bed and watched the world spin around me. I pretty much was completely stoned. As promised, though, the contractions did start in real earnest at this time. I was unable to get in the jacuzzi since I couldn't even get out of bed to use the bathroom, and I maintained enough sense to tell the doctor that if I couldn't get out of bed to labor in the tub, then I wanted the good drugs. I saw no sense in holding out and hurting, so she called in the anesthesiologist for a consultation. We talked about an epidural, which required putting in a catheter and dripping the anesthesia into my spinal cord. The benefit of this would be that it wouldn't wear off until they stopped giving the medicine. Even if my labor went another ten hours, I would be covered in terms of pain. The downside was that I would not be able to feel anything, and that it could potentially hinder my ability to push the baby out, which could lead to a c-section. It also would take an hour or so to take effect. He also gave me the option of an interlochal, which was basically a shot of morphine directly into my spinal cord. The downside was that it would only last four hours, and that if it wore off before the baby came, I'd be stuck. I looked at Dr. McCray, who assured me that we should have a baby within four hours. We went with the interlochal. He got me up and prepped my back to put in the shot. As he injected the morphine, he warned me that it might take five or ten minutes to take effect. Immediately, my toes started to tingle, and by the time I got laid back in the bed, I was feeling no pain at all. In fact, I fell asleep and was in and out for the next two hours. I think I woke up and puked at one point, but honestly, the whole time period is hazy. I was VERY relaxed, except for the contractions, which were now coming fast and furious. All my research about labor and delivery said that transition would be the hardest state, but I honestly don't really remember much of it. I don't feel particularly cheated, though...

Around 11:00, Angie and the nurse woke me up and told me it was time to start pushing. Angie went to my side and Paul went to the other to support me as I pushed, and baby, did I push. Every time a contraction hit, I got bent in half like a contortionist and told to push as hard as I could. After about an hour, Dr. McCray called Paul down to the end of the bed to show him the baby's head, which was right there and ready to come out, but stuck under my pubic bone. Paul settled in like a catcher at the plate and prepared to watch his son being born, and Angie stayed at my side and continued to exhort me to push. It took another hour of the doctor working me and the baby to prevent tearing (and I didn't!) and me pushing through (and beyond) the contractions for the baby to slide on out. Chayton Thomas Rogers was born at 1:07 AM on Friday, February 18th. The doctor wrapped him in a towel and put him in my arms for a minute, long enough for me to look him over and make sure he was all there. Then, the nurses whisked him away for clean-up and all the other things they had to do, and the doctor finished up with me. Angie went out to deliver the news to the waiting grandparents (and my niece Allie, who had decided to stay after my brother-in-law brought my niece and nephew and pizza over for supper). After about an hour, we had the grandparents come in to see the baby for just a minute, and then we sent them all home. Angie left then, too, to take Allie home. The baby and I were moved to a different room, and Paul stayed long enough to get us settled. The nurses went ahead and took the baby so I could get a little sleep, and our family of two officially became a family of three.

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