Man, where to even start.
Aedan Theresa is finally here! She was born on 5/11/11 at 1:43 pm. Without a doubt, my life has changed forever. All the clichés are suddenly true, and I *get* it now.
Okay so let's back up a bit. If you've been following the blog for awhile now you'll know the pregnancy was generally pretty smooth, months 1-8 flew by mostly uneventfully. Month 9, of course, was a bit brutal but of course that's to be expected. Time came to a grinding halt.
The due date was a few weeks away and we were visiting the OB on a weekly basis. Unfortunately we weren't really seeing much progress. The OB predicted that it was because she was too big for Amanda's pelvis, and started throwing around the idea of a C section. Which, of course, was *not* in our birth plan, and honestly a bit scary to even hear him talk about it because we had never even really considered the possibility. The doctor fully admitted though that he really had no idea how big she could be and was just taking a shot in the dark. So, we went home and waited, hoping for the best - all the while eating the spiciest food possible as often as we could, walking about a mile a day, generally trying whatever we could to go ahead and make it happen. Nothing was successful.
The day before our due date, we had an OB appointment and again nothing had changed. No dilation, no effacement, no plug loss, no water breakage, and the cervix was still posterior.
As the due date passed quietly, we were then faced with two options. We could wait, see if things progressed naturally but in doing so give the baby more time to grow and thus possibly present more difficulty in delivery should we get there as hoped, or we could induce – thereby forcing Amanda to deliver our baby at her current size, but risking that the pitocin that would be needed to induce could prolong labor and that inductions in general are more likely to end up as a cesarean section. Double edged sword, really. We really had no intention of inducing from the beginning, but we had even less intention of Amanda’s pregnancy ending in a C section, so we chose to compromise by waiting 5 days, and then if there is still no progress we would go in for induction.
So 5 days pass, and you can guess what happened. Absolutely nothing. We then checked into the hospital last Tuesday night, for an induction that would start on Wednesday morning.
As an aside here, it’s weird when a delivery is scheduled. Just in general. You spend so much time planning to have to act without plan – packing emergency bags, studying the hell out of those pregnancy books so you’ll be sure you know when it’s really time, living every day for at least a few weeks with about as much anxiety is possible. To just say… “okay, time to go. We have to be at the hospital at 8:30 -” … well, it’s just not what you expect, generally.
So Tuesday night we go check in.
We get settled in our room and a nurse checks out the situation. Progress! 4cm dilation and 75% effacement. Yet the cervix remains in a posterior position.
Sleep that night was virtually impossible, but it happened.. sort of.. in a fitful, restless, difficult sort of way.
The morning comes.. eventually. No progress since the night before. Pitocin starts at 7:00am. Our doula arrives at 8:00am. Amanda decides to go on the epidural at about 8:30 or so. She had hoped to be able to hold out on that and only rely on it if it were absolutely necessary, but the exams so far had been pretty rough on her and the doctor was – to be completely honest – pushing it fairly hard. Though she was ultimately a bit put off by this, it turned out to be the right decision in the end and we’ll get back to that in a little bit.
So the idea was – get her on the pitocin, get her contractions “adequate” (their words) enough so that further dilation and the cervix move from posterior to anterior would be reasonably expectable, and then give her some time at that level to see what happens. The pitocin did bring on some contractions, but it took awhile for them to reach that sufficient level.
Once they did, we waited about two hours, then the doctor checked our progress. Nothing again. The doctor said he does feel like it’s likely the baby is just too big and that’s why we’re not getting the results we hoped for – he specified of course, that that didn’t mean the baby would even be that huge overall, merely that it just might be too large for Amanda’s hips. We did start talking about the possibility of this ending in a C section a little more, but our doctor was happy to wait and give us more time to see if any changes would come.
But it wasn’t looking good. So far everything in this pregnancy had gone exactly as planned, but it didn’t look like this final step was going to. We waited a total of 5 hours of active labor, with no progress through any of it. After that time, Amanda was still only 4cm – the same as when we had checked in the night before. And the baby still had yet to drop – she was still, as our doctor put it, all the way up in New Jersey. After 5 hours, the doctor came back and sat down to talk things over with us.
We could wait longer. Though the doctor said this was an option, he made it clear that it was really only an option in the strictest theoretical sense of the word. To his mind, it had to be a C section, end of story. The main risks in waiting are infection and the fact that if she was actually too big, and she dropped into a pelvis not big enough to deliver her, then in that circumstance the doctor is left with no choice but to break the baby’s clavicle to get her through. Can you imagine? Not to mention the significant factor that every contraction is stress on the baby – who was fine at the time – but continued hours and hours of labor stress could easily bring a more emergency situation to bear.
Or we move forward with the C section. Which means more drugs for mom, highly invasive surgery and longer recovery time, but in most probability the least risk towards the child. We had the benefit of it being a non-emergency situation, which meant that at least we wouldn’t be whisked off into an OR without having the chance to give it some thought.
After being presented these options, we both felt pretty certainly that the least risk to the child was the way to go. And that meant C section. But this was a very difficult decision to come to – we had never anticipated labor to go this way, and though we knew the basics of the operation we really had not given ourselves much chance for preparation towards that eventuality at all and felt rather unprepared.
I asked the doctor for more time and told him that it did sound as if we would be going with the surgery, but that we needed some time to make peace with the idea. To his credit, he was agreeable about it and in fact suggested we wait another hour or so for one final check.
So we did. And if you haven’t caught the theme yet, you’re not paying attention… nothing doing.
It was decided. Aedan was to come to us via C section. We were scared, but we felt confident it was the right decision given our situation. And given the fact we were going to the OR, the early epidural was in fact a good move – Amanda would need it anyway for the operation, and if she had merely suffered through 5 hours of active labor contractions for nothing we would have accomplished precisely that – nothing.
So she got wheeled off in her bed to be prepped for surgery, while I went to go get my “bunny suit” on – scrubs, face mask, slippers, hat, the whole thing. After about 10 minutes they took me to the OR where Amanda was.
Heart. Pounding. So. Hard.
I really barely had time to even process the whole situation. The room was busy, there were four surgeons (our doctor and three assistants), one or two nurses, and two people monitoring some machines. There may have been more but that’s all I remember. One nurse led me by the hand to a stool where I could sit, and said not to touch anything blue. Amanda had been set on her bed with a sheet set up between us and the operating area, but it was the kind of thing that you couldn’t help seeing out of the corner of your eye – you couldn’t NOT look. Yes, I saw the operation. I didn’t *watch* it, but I saw it. Flashes of it, anyway.
I sat down next to her and could tell she was drugged. The first thing she did was complain of feeling claustrophobic, and I couldn’t blame her. I held her hand and reassured her as best I could.
There was some casual conversation between the surgeons. I don’t remember the topic but I remember it being particularly inane. This was reassuring, and I wondered if they did it intentionally. There was some pressure below the curtain/sheet, and movement. More conversation.
Three or four minutes pass.
“There she is… yep.”
“Wow yeah, that IS a big head. Alright here she comes.”
And then the cries. Aedan was here. It literally did take all of just a few minutes to get her out.
And as cliché as I know it is, there is no experience in the world like hearing your child’s first cries. I won’t even attempt to find the words.
After Aedan came out, the nurse led me over with her to clean her up, weigh her, clip her cord, and some various other things.
She was 8 pounds, 9 ounces. 20 inches tall. 13.75 cm diameter head. Beautiful.
I was only so barely aware of everything because it was all I could even do to manage the emotions of the situation. I saw Amanda watching as I held Aedan’s hand, and even though she was only 5 feet away from us on the operating table I knew it was breaking her heart to be so far from her baby. This whole process here after she was born probably only took about another 5 minutes, but it felt like hours before I could take Aedan back to her mother.
Eventually I could and I held her next to Amanda, and there were so many tears.
The next step was that I could go to the recovery room with Aedan, and Amanda would need a few more minutes of being sewn up and could then join us there on her transport. We had always stressed the importance of skin to skin contact as soon as possible, as well as attempts to breastfeed as soon as we could get the chance. With a C section, this can’t be immediate as with a vaginal delivery. But the nurses were as accommodating as they could be – she made it to the recovery room in another 15 minutes, and was holding her daughter shortly after, which was then followed by a few successful breastfeeding attempts.
I should say *most* of the nurses were as accommodating as possible. Apparently when Amanda was being wheeled to recovery, she was encouraged to “not worry about the baby, just take a nap now and it will all be okay.” I wasn’t there for that, but it baffles me. Take a nap? Who on earth could ever do that after the experience she just had? Really? Who are you kidding?
Two hours in the recovery room with mother and daughter. They slept. I… waited. I don’t know what I did. I was overwhelmed. I guess I mostly just sat there and took pictures.
Before we moved on, our doctor came to visit and congratulate us. As it turned out, Aedan had been loosely wrapped up in her umbilical cord the whole time, which can also hinder the labor process and her dropping. If we had opted not to move on with the procedure and wait for labor to take its course, the cord would have obstructed Aedan's breathing by the time she dropped, and we would have been forced into an emergency C section regardless. As much as it was scary to hear this, it was also a relief - because knowing this, there is no question that we made the right choice. There are no regrets when you know from the end result that you made the best choices you could given the cards you were dealt, but if that hadn't been the case we would have always been left wondering what could have been. I believe it matters far less what decisions you actually make in these situations, so much as you are confident that you made the right ones - whatever they might be.
We had never dreamed labor would go this way and there would be a need cesarean surgery, but I am so thankful that our doctors have the knowledge and capacity to perform such things.
So the key for moving to our maternity suite from the recovery room was that Amanda needed to be able to move her knees. After awhile, she passed this check and we moved.
We spent five days recovering in the hospital. This was more for Amanda than Aedan, as recovery needed for the major surgery of a C section is pretty extensive. The five days felt like eternity, and we were so happy to go home.
Aedan Theresa turns one week old today. Our time since returning home has obviously not been without challenges, but this is a most wonderful time in my life.