Friday, December 2, 2011

Adventures in Childbirth

Hello all!
It has been quite a wild ride since my last blog update.  Baby Olivia Marie Cunningham arrived on 11/22/11 at 4:25 AM and we are all doing great! As far as the birth story is concerned, like so many things in life that don't go exactly according to plan, I am continually grateful that God has a "master plan" and that we all came through this OK with angels watching over us.

In preparation for the birth, Jason and I took a birthing course called the Bradley Method.  The information we received there, especially related to the possible complications and interventions, really helped us through the wild day(s) and night of Olivia's birth. Though we didn't end up with the natural birth that were hoping for, I am certain that she came into this world in the way she was meant to come.  And I am very thankful for the excellent care that we received at Research Medical Center.

It all started on Saturday night 11/19, the day after my due date.  My water broke at around 6 pm but labor did not start. Usually water breaks with labor but when it happens before labor, this is called PROM (premature rupture of membranes). We did some things to naturally stimulate labor including acupuncture, but I never felt anything but irregular pre-labor contractions.  Since the water was all clear, the midwifes agreed that we could wait until Monday morning to see if natural labor would start before considering  medical interventions to augment labor.

Fast forward about 30 hours and we STILL were not in labor but I saw meconium (yellow staining) in the waters which indicates that the baby could be in distress. At this point, we headed to the hospital knowing labor would be induced. My birth plan was to labor without painkiller, however when they gave me pitocin to augment/induce labor, I knew that plan might not be so viable. Anyhow, I labored for about 12-14 hours on pitocin before getting the epidural.

As labor progressed, we discovered some issues with the baby's positioning in the womb - when I labored in a side lying position (Lillian's Pose) on my left side, it was extremely painful, however this was the position the midwives said I needed to be in to get the baby's head lined up properly on the cervix. The baby was so active in the womb and hard to track on the fetal monitor, however once they gave me the epidural, they put in an internal fetal monitor to see exactly how she was doing.  They then realized that the side lying position I was in (which caused me severe pain/binding) was also causing severe fetal distress. 

The doc's and midwives continued to work with the pitocin levels to generate contractions (think approx 8 hours of this) while monitoring the baby's vitals. Progress was seen - I think I made it to 7 cm and 90 effaced before it became clear that the baby was not tolerating the labor well - her heart rate would go down and stay down at scary levels for minutes after some of the bigger contractions. In addition, I was not tolerating the meds administered during labor well either.  For several days after the birth, my biggest complication/health challenge by far was extreme burning of my esophagus due to vomiting violently for hours (probably from a reaction to the pitocin) which made it almost impossible to swallow anything. 

In the end, they called for an emergency c-section - medical reasons cited were Failure to Progress and Fetal Intolerance to Labor.  One more wrinkle - the anesthesiologist had to give me another spinal tap because somehow my epidural IV space had closed up. Very odd.  Anyhow, the good Dr. Sullivan came in on a moment's notice and cut me open to bring our sweet baby girl into this world.  The most wonderful sound imaginable is the sound of a baby crying vigorously in that operating room! 

Here's a picture of me and Olive after quite an ordeal!  Nice to get some rest for a change.

Jason was the first to get to bond with Olivia.  After they cleaned her up, he was able to go to her and just the sound of his voice calmed her down immediately. 

This is such a cute picture of her holding his hand during her initial health evaluation. She was just minutes old and already holding daddy's hand!

After all of the procedures and twists and turns with the hospital stay, we actually got discharged a day early (on Thanksgiving) so we could drop in at a few family functions.  But mostly we all have been resting and recouperating since then. 

Olivia is a picture of good health and vitality.  Breastfeeding is going great - at her dr appt two days ago, she had already regained what she lost from birth weight and was up 3 oz. :)  Jason and I are absolutely smitten with our little Thanksgiving baby and happily adjusting to parenthood. 

Love Always, Claire