October 5, 2012

Happy Birthday Leopold Walter!

Happy Birthday Leopold Walter!

Well, with a name like Leopold, I should have known that our lovely little Loops would be a tad unorthodox. What a strange yet wonderful journey his birth was. 

It all began on Wednesday, September 26th with noticeably stronger Braxton Hicks contractions that were coming for about 30 seconds at 15 minutes apart.  As it seems is usually the case with BH, when I went to bed for the night, they disappeared. On Thursday afternoon, the Braxton Hicks came back, and settled into a pattern again. This time, however, when I sat down after making and cleaning up dinner, they didn’t go away, and instead slowly and surely lengthened in duration and increased in frequency.  However, they did not, by any means, hurt. So there I was, a “seasoned veteran” at birth, and feeling completely confused as to whether my contractions were real or not. (I hesitate to endorse the notion of veteran status since each birth has the potential to happen in a completely unexpected way). Finally, Andy and I just decided we had better get some sleep, just in case the contractions were to get stronger. It’s a good thing we did, because even when I laid down for bed, the contractions didn’t go away. 

By 2:00am, after the contractions were strong enough to become uncomfortable and even a little bit painful I decided to play it safe and make the call to my mom, telling her she could hit the road. She had a seven-hour drive from Asheville ahead of her. Not long after I called her, probably because having her on the way put me at ease a little bit, I finally fell asleep for the night; my body just couldn’t stay awake any longer. When I woke up in the morning, it took a while for the contractions to start back up again. This time, when they did, they were weaker again, so I officially felt kind of silly for calling my mom, I had been duped by Leopold! At least I thought I had…shortly before my mom arrived, they came back in earnest, and these I had to concentrate a bit, and breathe through. They felt just like the contractions I had the morning of the day Sebastian was born, so I felt confident Leopold would be a September 28 baby. 

I was still convinced, however, because of the irregularity of said contractions, that Leopold and I would have a slow and steady labor ahead of us. So I left the boys with Andy (my mom was almost there) and headed off to get a much needed pedicure. It was pretty funny being able to text my sister to tell her I was being a hick, and laboring in Wal-Mart (my chosen pedicure spot), ha! When I got back home, things just became more confusing. The contractions were still strong, but they were all over the place. If I was sitting, they could be as long as 40 minutes apart or 10 minutes apart. If I was being active, they could be anywhere from 15 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart, and were they ever strong! I could still breathe through them and keep my calm, so I was determined, even when bedtime rolled around, to wait for a more obvious and immediate pattern to emerge that would signal the necessity for the trip to the hospital. Sleep was nearly impossible on Friday night. At most I would get about 15 minutes of sleep before a contraction would prod me to my hands and knees to rock through the pain…I don’t even know if I really slept at all. 

When Saturday  (D-DAY) arrived, I was determined to do whatever it took to get the contractions closer together. I walked, I did squats, I sat on the ball, but the painful and chaotic contractions never embraced the pattern of immediacy, the 4-1-1 or 5-1-1 rule you hear so much about. Four or five minutes apart, for one minute long, lasting for one hour. My midwife Blair, had instructed me earlier that it wasn't really a hard and fast rule for most moms who have already had babies anyways. Still, it was something to shoot for. Instead, the contractions were doing funny things, like lasting for one and half minutes long, anywhere from 11 minutes to three minutes apart. This went on all day. By the afternoon the contractions were quite painful, I recognized them as the level of pain I had when I had gone to the hospital to have Sebastian. Still, I felt too silly to call the midwifery when they were so obviously not forming a discernible pattern. So instead I labored along for another three hours with my quirky contractions. It wasn’t until I looked up an exercise called curb walking that a friend of mine recommended, Emily Willett (who happens to be a doula who also had a baby delivered by Blair), that the contractions finally started to occur frequently enough, however inconsistently, for me to call Blair and tell her what was going on. When she spoke to me, she said she could understand how confused I must be, and that if it would help, I could come in and get checked. I told her I would head in, as at this point, I was exhausted, and at my wits end. 

My abnormal contractions hadn't finished entertaining for the evening. Sitting down made them space out to about 25 minutes apart. So during the non-stress test they plug you into when you get to DePaul hospital, I didn’t have one contraction in the entire 20 minutes I was sitting there. The worst part was, whenever that happened, and then I stood up, I endured a longer than usual mega contraction…  I think Blair was surprised to find me at 5cm dilation considering my NST. She thought it best that I choose to stay at the hospital and just not sit down. So, Andy and I began a journey of laps around the labor and delivery of DePaul hospital, back and forth, round and round, all the while iPad in hand to record the irregular contractions I was having. An hour later when Blair came back to see how we were doing, she looked at the contractions we had recorded, and sparks flew. She noticed that as odd and unorthodox as the contractions seemed to be, they were, in fact forming a pattern we hadn't recognized, but it was one she was familiar with. My really long and intense contractions were being followed by shorter less intense contractions. This was a sign that the baby’s head was not engaged fully, to progress labor in the proper pattern. Instead, his head was canted a little to the side, because he had not tucked his chin.  If you’re interested in this phenomenon, spinningbabies.com has some info on it…very interesting I think. Anyways, she said that it was fixable if I was willing to endure some more pain during contractions, and try some positioning techniques that should get him to tuck his chin over a few rounds of contractions. First, however, we had to wait for someone to clean up the room in the midwifery where we were hoping to have the baby.

 Therefore, we walked the halls some more, and I felt even more hopeful that Leopold would arrive soon.  She had warned us that once the problem was fixed, I'm guessing because the amount of hormones and everything else that had been trying to push this labor along against the difficulties of his position, could mean a very intense, painful, and quick labor. After two days of labor pains, of course I was up to the challenge; I just wanted to see my little man.  When our room was ready for us, I was relieved to walk into a dark, calming environment, so different from that offered by the Naval hospital that had accommodated my last two births.  The bed was a queen size, real bed, there was a Jacuzzi whirlpool, in case I wanted to labor in the water, and the lights were down low. When Blair checked me again, she was surprised to find me at 7 cm, since I had been laughing and joking with her intermittently for the past couple of hours. Thanking God for my high pain tolerance! 

To encourage things further, she broke my water. At first she was surprised to find clear fluid (since the labor had been so long) but there was a little bit of meconium that came out when more of the water came. This meant that I might not get much time to hold Leopold before the pediatrician would have to suction him. Moreover, there would be no delayed cord clamping. All's well that ends well I suppose...and it did. Moving on, Andy plugged in the iPad, and played some relaxing music I had prepared ahead of time, and did an excellent job comforting me through the next stage of labor, giving me back massages, and putting Argan oil on my hands for aromatherapy. Blair wasn’t kidding about the pain my new labor positions would put me through. For each contraction I had to hang onto Andy with my arms around his neck, and place one leg at a 90 degree angle up onto a chair that was off to my side.  This was NOT a comfortable position to labor in! As she had told me, one side would be far worse than the other because of the angling of the baby’s head I think. I’m not sure how long this went on, my guess would be for an hour or two. I could tell I had moved into transition at some point and that the positioning had done its job, because the contractions started to come very close together and were at the point that I was making noise through all of them. The pressure was just nonstop at this point as well. Finally, I reached a point where I felt the urge to push was imminent, so I had the nurse retrieve Blair (or rather Andy did).

She checked me again, and okay, that reallllly wasn’t comfortable during a contraction! She said there was just a tiny lip that I could push through on the next contraction if I wanted to. I couldn’t have stopped myself either way. When I pushed, the lip went away, and I officially entered the pushing stage of labor. The nurse left the room to gather the pediatrician and baby’s nurse to prep the little station where he would be taken care of. Nothing ever prepares a woman for the pushing stage of labor. At least not one like me, whose babies don’t just slip out. (I’ve heard there are women this happens for). The amount of force it seems to take to get that little body out is just not something previous births can ever fully prepare you for. For me, it was all new, like my memories of my other births were repressed by happy hormones and I had forgotten what I was about to enter into. The ring of fire! After what seemed like an eternity, however, Leopold finally emerged. Blair, my midwife, did some crazy dance-like move to unwrap his cord and throw him up on top of me, in the hopes he might cry and not have to be taken away to the Ped’s station. The first thing he did when he entered the world? Pee on his mama! Everyone was pretty amused by his marking his territory. And I was quick to point out that the little stinker was 21 minutes late. Tsk tsk, Leopold! 

While he was briefly on my chest he didn’t really cry, but was coughing slightly, so Blair had to make the rapid decision to clamp the cord and send him over for suctioning. He started to cry before they began the suction, but they helped him out a little by doing it anyways. Less gunk for him to cough up later.  That newborn cry was so glorious!  I couldn’t believe how strange and unexpected the entire birth experience was for me this time around. You always have an idea in your mind how your birth will go. Sebastian was pretty textbook, apart from me not knowing what I was doing and tearing a lot, he even arrived on his due date, and Izaak, was so stubborn he had to be induced.  I should have known I couldn’t possibly know what to expect with Leopold. Even Blair seemed to think it was a strange, albeit exciting, birth story, and she’s delivered thousands of babies…six that same night! Ha! Well, there it is. My long, drawn-out, detail-packed story of Leopold Walter’s birth. He was born September 30th, 2012 at 12:21 am, delivered by Blair Conger at DePaul medical center. After our hour of bonding time, he weighed in at 8lbs, 8oz., and measured 19.5 inches long. The runt of the family, ha-ha! Happy Birthday Leopold!!!! You are a blessing and gift from God, and we are all so blessed to welcome you into our family!

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