Saturday, November 28, 2009

Riley Joy's Birth

So I wrote the original birth story before I had even had a chance to process every thing... It really wasn't until I got pregnant with Amity Joy that I really started processing what happened during my labor with Riley. All I knew was that I was terrified of repeating that experience.

As hard as every thing was, I have learned so much because of Riley..I started out into motherhood with a less than positive start. But watching my baby grow, has grown me too. I've learned (among other things) that it's okay to be sad and angry about how some things happened. Happy and perfect aren't the only acceptable emotions. Feeling sad and angry were not the main emotions I would have chosen to have connected with any of my babies birth. But negative things happen and it doesn't change or negate the positive...The miracle I was given, my little girl, whom I have grown to love more than I knew was possible.

Riley Joy was born on December 31, 2007 at 12:02pm she was 6lbs 15oz and 21 inches long.
apgars, 8 and 9
It was an extremely hard pregnancy. I was extremely sick with morning sickness the first 20 weeks...And the last 10-12 weeks of the pregnancy throwing up and in severe pain with gall bladder attacks. I was one miserable mama by the time I got to 39w1day (when she was born)- I had been sleep deprived for a long time, I was ready to be done.
I started having contractions on Christmas Eve, my body played the early-labor game all that week. Labor would seem like it was starting, than fizzle. Saturday the 29th, Ryan and I went to the mall and walked walked walked. It is a really beautiful memory for me, our last trip out with out diaper bag and baby paraphernalia. Sunday morning (our 2 year wedding anniversary!) I woke up with diarrhea, bloody show and some much more serious contractions. I remember sitting on the couch all ready for church trying to force down some yogurt and fresh fruit. We headed to church and I paced the entire service, I couldn't sit down I was so uncomfortable. As the day went on they started to get even more serious and were coming 2-5 minutes apart.

Around 1pm DH and I were spending time together and I felt a little surge of fluid and a trickle down my leg...I didn't have too much more leaking through out the afternoon, but I called and let the midwife know. She said to keep an eye on things and they'd be in touch.

I was feeling sick and on edge, having a hard time relaxing and the contractions were there, they were very uncomfortable, I couldn't lay down through them, I sat on my balance ball and bounced through them. Around 11:30 the midwife called to see how I was doing, she thought since it was sleeting outside we should head into the hospital. We got to the hospital around midnight...At triage they checked me I was almost 4cm and 90% effaced. Contractions were 2-4 minutes apart (more often 2 than 4). They decided my bag of waters were intact (they said I may have had a leak but it probably resealed- I was told later they really wanted to give me an out if I wanted it). ..So I could stay, or if I wanted to I could try to go home and get some sleep.

Well after a week of prodormal labor I was ready to have this show on the road, and like I said laying down - I couldn't sleep through the contractions. So they admitted me. Ryan and I were told to walk until I was 5cm, at that point they'd go ahead and officially break my water. So my Mom Ryan and I walked for about an hour, they checked me I was at 5cm and they broke my water...Weird feeling! I remember walking the halls, I remember the moment my water broke thinking "maybe that wasn't such a good idea"...Either way we trusted our CNM and she felt it was a good idea so we went with it (mistake #1). Contractions picked up from there, got very intense. But mostly because they wanted me to lay on my side in bed to get Riley to turn her head, they said it looked like she was posterior still. The contractions were really hard to deal with in those positions. So after constant flipping and being on the birth ball, EVERY THING, I walked some more. Around 2 am they checked me: I was 6cm and very uncomfortable they said I could hop in the tub if I wanted...Got in the tub and soaked for an hour or two...But around 4 my contractions slowed down to 8-10min apart and very weak. I got out of the tub, and walked for a bit but after almost 2 hours of irregular contractions and NO progress and more gymnastics trying to get Riley to turn, the midwife said, "I don't like to suggest this, But you're not progressing I think we may need to start pitocen. We need the contractions to DO some thing, soon!" (here I will put in that since my water had only been broken for 6 hours I don't know what the rush and emergency was. I think she mainly wanted to go home- and want me to have some thing left for pushing).

So we decided to see if a low dose of pitocen would get things stronger and more organized again. They gave me Staydol (oh my gosh that stuff is awful, I was soooo loopy- which in a way turned out to a small blessing) to see if it would help me be more relaxed and get some sleep. By this point it was 5:30 in the morning and I was getting very uncomfortable...They had me in bed switching side to side trying to get Riley to shift (though from what I read pelvic rocks would have been better- they never had me do a single one!) . She was at 1 station and we couldn't understand why my labor wasn't doing any thing. My midwife kept saying, "your cervix is so soft this baby should be falling out!".
I labored with the pitocen for about 4 hours (That stuff is horrible!), and the contractions were soooo bad to the point that I was starting to shake through them. I could handle them in a calm way while standing and swaying, circling my hips felt right and good...But the internal monitor wouldn't stay in place if I was out of bed so I was encouraged to stay in bed. I questioned them about gravity doing its' work if I wasn't upright- I was told that that "doesn't really have that much of an effect". Maybe they were talking about Riley being ROT/ROP and that they needed her to rotate more than descend? I don't know I didn't know any thing about babies positioning at that point, I had read a lot but wasn't clued in on positioning and how important it was.
Anyway L (midwife) came to me again and said, "Listen it looks like your body is so worn out it's just not dilating. Frankly I don't understand why because your cervix is so soft and ripe that kid should be falling right through. But for your sake I think you need an epidural. I was getting so uncomfortable, had gotten no more than 5 hours of sleep for the last 36 hours and was EXHAUSTED. We decided to try the epi and see if it would get me from 6cm (where after 9 hours I'd just barely progressed to) to 10cm so we could get this kiddo OUT.

This is where the trauma started. Getting the EPIDURAL WAS HORRIBLE. I think it was made worse by the fact that they had upped my pitocen an hour before it and I was in intense labor. Also the fact that I hated having to get it, I just didn't want to not be able to move. I was really freaked out about not having control of my body, I was scared of the needle and just completely terrified. I still feel embarrassed about that experience I was the hugest baby, I felt so terrible for the guys doing my epi, I screamed when they put the big needle in (it was in the middle of a contraction) and sobbed while they did every thing. By the time they did the epi I was a "generous 6, almost 7cm" and I was able to sleep for a few a little bit. Still majorly doped on the Staydol. So 2 hours later I was checked again and I had made NO more progress. The back up OB was called in, and he checked me and seemed frustrated... "Wow this totally stinks, your body is soo ready to have this baby, but she's presenting her head at a weird angle... I'm afraid I'm going to have to suggest a c-section." I didn't realize it until way after the fact, but Ryan told me later that they had been whispering and getting concerned about Riley's heart rate for over an hour before that... It seems she was starting to go into distress, with her heart rate dropping down into the 90's- but she was recovering well. Again, looking back I wish I had said "shut off hte pitocen idiots! If she's not doing well shut off the pitocen. Let me get a couple hours of sleep with the epi and then we'll turn it off and let me walk and try again my water's only been broken 12 hours!" But hindsight is 20/20 and I've had almost 2 years to process all of this, looking back I was doped, I was absolutely exhausted, I was very scared and didn't feel safe...A recipe for a stuck baby if you ask me.
Anyway, I heard "c-section" and nodded. I can't say I was worried, or upset by it at that point- I was numb. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was too tired to push (but honestly, after having Amity I think with all the work it takes to get baby to the point of pushing most Mom's are too tired to push, but you DO it because you're desperate to be done!).

So within 10 minutes they had me wheeled into the OR and were prepping me for the surgery. THAT was the worst part, I feel most angry about this part I think. They switched me to the OR bed, they weren't very nice about the fact that I couldn't help them at all, I couldn't move my legs!!!! I was shaking uncontrollably and the muscles in my neck were spasming. They laid me down and put the curtain up between my chest and belly (I guess so I wouldn't feel weird about being completely naked down there?) They started putting tape stuff on my belly and drapes all over the place...Then the anesthesiologist started doing the test to see if I had any feeling...I had none, NONE. I was still shaking and so they tied my arms down to the table, the did cover me with warm blankets that felt nice. But my neck spasm got worse with my arms in that position. A few minutes later they tilted me so my head was down hill from the bed...I couldn't breath, I felt Riley wriggling against my lungs and kicking- she didn't like what was going on at all. My spasm got worse, my glasses were itching my face, but I couldn't reach it because my arms were strapped down, my upper body was shaking even harder- which made the neck spasm worse the pain was miserable. I started to have a panic attack, I needed Ryan I couldn't breath. I remember looking at the clock at this point it was 11:38 and the second hand was ticking away, I watched the ticking and tried to breath to stay calm I was praying "God, help! Send Ryan...Ryan is coming Ryan is coming..." over and over. Ryan arrived he took the netty surgical cap thing off my head an started massaging the top of my head I can't say how his touch calmed me. He made me human not this object strapped to a table in a small OR room in a large hospital. I was a person.

At some point my heart rate and Riley's heart rate evened out and the anesthesiologist took my oxygen mask off, Ryan fixed my glasses and continued to smooth the hair out of my face. The doctor was talking to us about how things were going, he said he could see Riley, I felt my body being lifted up my hips being shaken, pressure...I heard "baby's out!" I heard suctioning, and Riley screaming her head off. I started to cry, I was glad she was okay. I have to say through it all I was never worried about her safety- even when they said her heart rate was dropping. They put her on the warming table and started to clean her up, like clock work..Ryan ran over to take pictures. I heard her screaming like crazy she was so angry at the handling. With in 5 minutes they had her wiped off, diapered, foot printed and swaddled with a little hat and they brought her over to me to look at. I couldn't touch her because my arms were strapped down. I cried harder because I couldn't touch her.

Then in a moment they said "time to head to the nursery, Daddy are you coming?" Ryan left while they sewed me up. They must have started pain meds- or maybe it was hormones from having the placenta removed, but I think I fell asleep...I woke up in the recovery room alone. No baby, just me. My Mom came in a few minutes later. She started pesting the nurse to get Riley down to me ASAP... We waited 30 minutes. Finally they brought my baby into me and I got to hold her for the first time, look into her precious little face. I was still laying most flat because of the spinal. And I had an awful (ANNOYING!) blood pressure cuff on my arm the nurse kept coming over and telling me to keep my arm straight so that they could get an accurate reading. I know I had just had major surgery but , REALLY? You can't even let me enjoy my precious perfect baby for 10 minutes? I asked if I could nurse Riley, and she said I could but I'd need to stay flat. Ryan and Mom helped me get her situated and she latched right on. She really nursed awesomely well the first 3 or 4 days - until my milk came in and then the night mare began.

Some time later they took us to our room, I just kept holding on to Riley, she was so beautiful. We got into our room and situated and the morphine started to hit hard...I passed out, Ryan was getting so angry at me because I was so out of it. I couldn't wake up enough to feed Riley (who wanted to be on my breast non stop)...It was like she was desperate to know she wasn't alone any more. Around 3:30 they came and asked if they should take Riley for her bath- they said it would only be 30 minutes...I was disappointed I wouldn't be able to go, and Ryan wanted to stay with me- he was so far gone with exhaustion. We both passed out. Around 6pm my sister knocked on my door and woke us up. Ryan looked at the clock freaked out, "WHERE IS RILEY?!" He left and was gone about 15minutes came back so upset "she's in a hallway thing in the nursery screaming her head off- I don't know how long she's been like that, the nurse said it'll only be a few more minutes." We were both so tired and in shock that we didn't get super angry about this for a while...Ryan is STILL angry about this. They brought Riley back THREE hours after she left us, she was asleep- we had missed her awake time and I think she had passed out from crying so hard. The thought of that breaks my heart...I wonder how much that whole experience has on how high needs and hard she was her first year.

The rest of our hospital stay was pretty uneventful. It was a lot of being poked at and prodded, a TON of interrupted sleep. It had a few sweet moments. Riley was up nursing a bit before midnight and we turned on the TV to watch the ball drop and welcome in 2008. At 2am they came in and got me out of bed and took out my catheter and blood clot boots (or whatever those massager things are) they gave me a sponge bath and helped me feel a little more human.

We begged to check out early, and instead of the normal 4 day stay after a c/s we only stayed 2, we packed up and took Riley home on January 2nd almost exactly 48 hours after she was born.

My recovery was hard, due to a lack of support on the home front I was on my own after Riley was 7 days old...I didn't suffer with any real depression, but I was very overwhelmed her first 5 or 6mos of life. And in a lot of pain for the most part in that time.

I still struggle with how things happened with her...In some ways I have a peace about it- I can see with my rational mind that she was a hospital birth and with how care is managed in that setting I can see that that's just how it had to happen. I can't know how it would have been different in a home birth...But after having Amity Joy-who had the same and maybe more in some way positional issues- (Oh about that turns out Riley was not only ROP but also presenting asycinlically) I feel that I most likely would have been able to get Riley out if she had been a home birth.

I wish things had gone differently with Riley. But as with all things when it comes to this precious daughter I have learned so much through her and because of her. I have learned the importance of being informed. I have experienced a c/s and will forever wear that scar, a reminder that God can use all things for good. I have been lead to ICAN and I hope to become very active in my local chapter. Because of our rough start in breastfeeding and parenting I did a TON of research, I have pretty much every fact and statistic memorized on the subject of breastfeeding...Because Riley was so high needs we were driven to find ways to help her feel secure which lead us to learn about attachment parenting...which lead us to listen to our instincts, which lead us to the discovery of all the different things God has in store for us in a Grace filled family.

And all that is just a drop in the bucket of what God has done because He sent us our beautiful Riley Joy! He continues to use her to bless, heal and teach us that finding joy in hard things takes bravery...Her name means Valiant, she is our Valiant Joy!

You can watch a slide show of Riley Joy's Birth HERE it's the one I made a few weeks after she was born.

To read Amity Joy's TRIUMPHANT HBAC Story CLICK HERE! (recently updated 11/09)