Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sawyer's Birth Story

He's here! Sawyer Penn Crossen decided to make his grand entrance Friday, October 24, at 12:28 pm, after 13 hours of labor. I'm worried that there are already parts I have forgotten, so I want to write as much of his birth story down as possible before I forget even more, so it's probably going to be a bit wordy. Fair warning-- there may be some things that are TMI, so proceed with caution.



Last Thursday, the 23rd, didn't feel much different than any other day during the last week or two of pregnancy. I was uncomfortable, huge, and just ready to meet our baby. I met David at Rincon for lunch, hoping that the spicy food would help get things started. This might have worked, but for the little fact that I had horrible heart burn AND I hate spicy food, so I ended up getting my usual instead of something that would make me feel awful. After lunch, we hit up Graeters for a milkshake and I joked that it would probably be my last one for a while because I would be on a strict no milk shake diet after little man's arrival.

After dropping David back at work I hit up Michaels, because in my non-rational pregnancy brain state I decided that I needed to make a wreath for our front door so that it would be there when we brought our baby home from the hospital. I looked back through my text messages from that day and saw that I texted my mom around 2pm and told her that my stomach was really cramping, and that I hoped it was the baby and not my lunch. lol

Fast forward a few hours later-- I texted David around 5 to tell him that he needed to come home so we could go walking and make this baby come out. I was still feeling crampy, but it wasn't much different than how I had been feeling the past few days. I didn't want to get my hopes up that anything was happening. David made it home and we made a quick run to Kroger where I bought Halloween candy for our nurses in the event that I wouldn't have time to make them cookies.

Once we were back home, David started making dinner and I sat at the counter to keep him company. I was really starting to feel a lot of pain in my back and the cramping in my stomach hadn't stopped. I think I knew then that something was happening. I texted my friend Stefanie that I thought we may have a baby soon because my back was hurting so bad and my stomach was still cramping. Then I texted Jenni, our doula, to keep her in the loop.

While I was texting them, I started getting a migraine. When I get migraines, it's really bad. My vision gets spotty and blurry, then eventually I can't see. Then my hands and arms go completely numb before the headache sets in. I haven't had a migraine in about 2 years. I know what my trigger is (artificial sweeteners), so if I stay away from those I normally don't get headaches. I started freaking out and crying because I knew how awful it was going to be, especially because I couldn't take any meds for it. David helped me upstairs to bed, but after a few minutes I started to feel really weird. My mouth and tongue went completely numb and I couldn't talk. I was convinced I was having a stroke. David called labor and delivery triage and they recommended that I come in to get my blood pressure checked, just to be on the safe side.
Once there, they hooked me up to the monitors to check out Sawyer's heart rate. My blood pressure was fine, but every time I had a contraction (I couldn't feel them yet, so I still didn't think I was in labor) his heart rate would drop a little bit. They did an exam and said that I was dilated 3cm, which is what I was earlier that week at my doctor's appointment. They decided to keep me overnight to observe the baby's heart rate, but that was it.

Once they had me settled in a room, I told David to go home to feed the cats and grab our bags. This was around 10:45pm. At this point, I still wasn't feeling anything other than the Braxton Hicks that I had been feeling all day so I settled back to try and sleep off the headache while David was gone. Fast forward 15 minutes to 11pm and the first real contraction hit. I remember wondering this whole pregnancy how I would know when the contractions stopped being B/H and started being real. Everyone kept telling me that "I would just know." They were right. My stomach started cramping like crazy, but instead of feeling the contraction in the front like I had expected, I felt the whole thing in my back. It was awful. I think that this was the low point for me during labor. I was alone and writhing around in pain, it was dark, and I didn't have the presence of mind to call the nurses to come in. I timed them for about 30 minutes and they were coming 5-6 minutes apart. At the point, I remember calling David and crying and asking him to hurry up and come back. It was another 30 minutes before he got back to the hospital and once he did, the doctor came in to check me. She determined that in the hour and a half since my last check, I had dilated another 2cm and was currently at a 5 and was about 75% effaced. As she stood up to leave, my water broke. I remember saying to her that I had either peed my pants or my water had broken. She kind of looked at me in disbelief, but checked me again anyway and determined that my water had in fact broken. This whole moment in time is kind of surreal to me. In my mind, I was still at the hospital for a migraine, not because I was in labor. I just remember telling David to call my mom and Jenni, our doula, and then I just kept repeating over and over again that we were having a baby.

At this point the contractions were insane. The only way I can describe them is by saying that it felt like all the bones in my back were being crushed at the same time. I had heard that back labor was awful, but I wasn't prepared for just how bad it was. Once my doula got there, she was able to calm me down a bit and helped me start breathing through the contractions. Up to that point I had been fighting them and holding my breath, which only made it worse. With Jenni's help, I was able to find a place in my head and just concentrate on the breathing, which helped for a bit. Another thing that added to the fire was the fact that Sawyer had his feet firmly planted in my ribs (like he had been the past few weeks), so my options were limited on positions. Anytime I moved I felt like he was going to break them. Using the peanut ball was out of the question as well, because anytime I tried to move into position Sawyer's heart rate dropped.

This is when the time starts to blur for me a bit. I really wish I had thought to ask someone to keep track of how fast I was progressing. All the nurses and doctors kept telling me that since this was my first baby that it would be a while before he was here. I think we were all surprised when I hit 7cm about 3-4 hours (we think) after my first real contraction started. It was at this point that I realized that I wasn't going to make it the rest of the way without an epidural. This whole pregnancy I wanted to deliver with no meds and I really thought that I could do it. However, I also know my body and I knew that with all the pain I was feeling in my back, combined with his feet in my ribs, that I would not make it. It was really hard for me to admit that I needed the epidural, but looking back on it I wouldn't have changed anything. All the nurses, the anesthesiologist, and my family were so supportive of my decision. They all said how proud they were that I had made it to 7cm on my own and that there was no shame in getting the epidural. In my heart, I know that there is nothing at all wrong with getting an epidural. I just really wanted to prove that I could do it and I really didn't want to expose my baby to any more drugs than I had to. In the end though, I think that had I not gotten the meds I would have been too tired to push and probably would have ended up having a c-section.

As a side note, I do want to say that overall our experience at UK was a good one, but I really wish that I had fought the nurses and doctors about letting me get up (prior to the epidural). I really think that if I had been able to get up and move around, the contractions would have gone better and he would have moved down faster. I don't know if they didn't want me to get up because his heart rate kept dropping or for some other reason, but I really wish I had asked. Also, while I'm on the subject- why does the hospital send staff in to talk to you while you're in the middle of a contraction? We opted out of the eye ointment (after doing our own research), so of course someone had to come in and tell us all the bad things that could happen since we declined it. Fair enough. I get it. But this med student who looked like he was 12 years old came in right during a contraction and started telling me that my baby could go blind, etc. I just remember looking at him and yelling at him to just stop talking. Maybe they should think about sending someone in before all the crappy stuff starts happening?

The epidural sucked. I was terrified of it to begin with and I was mad at myself for getting it. They had me sit on the side of the bed and lean against David. They numbed my back and then inserted the needle. This actually didn't bother me at all. The part that sucked was having to stay bent over during the contractions. In my case, they actually had to do it twice because it kinked the first time, so it ended up taking double the amount of time. As much as getting the epidural sucked, it was magic. I didn't even know when I was having contractions. David, my mom, and Kendra were able to get some rest and I was able to lie back under these magical warm blankets and talk with Jenni. I don't even remember what we talked about, but it was nice to take my mind off things.

By 6:30 am, I was at 8.5 cm and fully effaced, but little man still had not dropped. Again, I think it's because they wouldn't let me get up. If we have any more babies, this is something that I will definitely fight them on. In the moment though, I didn't really have the presence of mind to ask them about it.

The rest of the morning was kind of a blur. I remember not believing them when they told me that I was 10cm and 100% effaced. I remember looking at David and telling him that today was a good day for a birthday. Around 9am the doctor came in and told me that they were going to start cutting back the strength of my epidural so that I could start pushing (up to this point, I had been pushing the button as soon as the green light told me I could). I think I had a bit of a freak out because I did not want to feel those awful back pains again. The doctor's reasoning was that I couldn't feel the contractions and I wouldn't be able to feel how hard I was pushing, so cutting back the meds was necessary to avoid a potential c-section. I was on board with that.

Let me tell you, pushing is hard. First, I had no idea what I was doing because hello, I had never done this before. Second, you have to hold your breath while you push for ten seconds, so you can't breathe and your eyes feel like they're going to pop out of your head. (Side note-this was the only time I yelled at David. He was counting those seconds way too slow. I yelled at him to stop counting and that he wasn't allowed to count anymore). Third, in my case at least, I had a set of little feet firmly planted in my ribs so I felt like I was running a marathon with a stitch in my side. Every time I leaned forward to push, I thought my ribs would break. It burned like crazy and I couldn't move to make it better. I guess I've watched too many episodes of Grey's Anatomy, because I was convinced that I would just have to push a few times and I would magically be given a baby. HA. I pushed for 3 hours. With each push and no baby, I got increasingly discouraged. I just remember turning to David and telling him that I couldn't do it anymore and that our baby would never be born. This is why having a great support system is key. David, Kendra, my mom, and Jenni were constantly telling me that I could do it. Also, my husband is amazing. Labor is not glamorous. But he held my hair back and wiped my face while I was puking and continually told me how beautiful I was and how good of a job I was doing. Find someone who does that and never let them go, people!

At some point during all this pushing, I just remember being done. I was exhausted. My whole body hurt. I'm pretty sure I voiced all of these concerns. I remember Dr. Marcum coming in and telling me that if I didn't make some progress that they were going to give me Pitocin. I immediately started crying because I had read awful things about Pitocin and was convinced that it was going to hurt my baby. I guess that gave me the push I needed because I started pushing like crazy. I remember Kendra being right in my ear counting each push for me and telling me that I was almost there. It was then that Dr. Marcum told me that it was 12:20 and we would have a baby by 12:35. I don't think I really processed that. I remember hearing Jenni's voice asking me if I saw what they were doing (they were raising the bed up and getting everything ready for the baby). She said "They're getting everything ready so you can meet your baby!"

Those final pushes were crazy. They didn't hurt, or if they did I didn't register them. I kept visualizing him coming out and being placed in my arms. It was such a weird feeling- for lack of a better image, it was kind of like pooping out a bowling ball. I don't know how many more I had, but I do know that he was out about the same time as they hung the Pitocin. He came out at 12:28- 7 minutes earlier than Dr. Marcum's guess.

Words can't even describe how I felt in that moment. All the pain, the nausea, the 13 hours of intense labor...all of it was gone the minute they gave him to me. I would have done it all over again in a heartbeat if he had needed me to. I knew I loved him when he was in my belly, but that in no way compared to the love I felt for him then. It felt like my whole world had stopped and it was just me and this tiny baby. I tried to drink in every bit of him and memorize his face, his hands, and his little toes. The old cliche definitely rang true in that moment. My life changed in an instant. It was no longer about me and David. It was all about this little boy and I knew then that there wasn't a thing in the world that I wouldn't do for him.

I think it really does speak to how much you love your baby because the fact that baby boy pooped all over me the minute they gave him to me, getting stitches, delivering the placenta, and having my belly pushed on to get my uterus to contract didn't even phase me. I don't even really remember it.

So that's Sawyer's birth story. It's not as nicely written as some of the ones I've seen online and is probably a bit boring to anyone but me, but it's ours. I know I've left things out and may have gotten a few things wrong, but I hope to be able to share this with him some day and hope that he knows that every bit of pain was worth it and that he was loved from the very beginning.

Sawyer Penn, mommy and daddy love you so much! We can't wait to share this world with you, to watch you grow, to teach you and learn from you, and most importantly- love you every second of your life!



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