Thursday, October 26, 2017

Maddox Kent's Birth Story

It's times like these when I wish I was a writer. Words have never come easily for me, but for moments like these I wish they would.

The births of my babies have been, without a doubt, the best moments in my life. And I don't want to forget a single minute of them.

As happy and joyous as Sawyer's birth was, I was a little disappointed with the experience I had. I wanted a med-free birth and I wanted to labor at home before heading to the hospital. I wanted to use the shower and move around my room. And none of that happened. I felt pressured by my nurses and was afraid to speak up and even though Sawyer got here and we were both healthy, I mourned the birth that I had wanted.

With Maddox, I felt more prepared. I went to a natural birthing class. I had my birth plan, I knew my rights as a patient, I was more confident with myself and my body. I knew I could do it. I told David over and over that it wasn't about having or not having the epidural. It was about having the chance to at least try. But, our little man had other ideas.

At 35 weeks, Dr. Rone noticed that baby's heart sounded a little weird. At 36 weeks, it was still sounding off, so he had me do a non stress test to double check. We passed and thought all was well. At 37 weeks, it was there again and even more prominent. We failed the NST and after an ultrasound, the doctor there told me to head to the hospital and prepare to have my baby.

If you know me at all, you know that I don't tolerate change very well. I'm a planner, a list maker, and very much a type A personality. So add all of that on top of being scared to death for my baby and it doesn't make for a pretty picture.

I won't recap all the events of that day because I've already posted about them in an earlier post. We decided that induction was our best option and made the appointment to be induced a week later on Friday, October 13.

The days leading up to Maddox's birth were full of anxiety and fear for me. I was worried about his heart, worried that I was making the wrong decision to be induced, worried that I was making the wrong decision by waiting a week, and selfishly, worried that I again wouldn't get that labor and birth I had been hoping for. I was convinced that the induction would fail and I would end up with a c-section, and that terrified me. I had an appointment on Monday and was barely 1cm, baby was still super high, and my body was clearly not ready for birth. That just added to my anxiety levels. On Thursday, I went to Baby Moon and had a labor massage in the hopes of relaxing a bit and getting my body to progress a bit on its own.

I remember feeling guilty because I wasn't excited at all. I thought a good mom should be so pumped to meet her baby, but the morning of the induction I could barely find the motivation to get dressed. I was not in a good place. I remember taking a photo with Sawyer and David; the last one as a family of 3. We drove to the hospital in silence, walked up to labor and delivery where the nurses greeted us with smiles and excitement that I couldn't return. My nurse, Natalie, walked us into our room and asked me how I was doing and I broke down. I had to get David to talk for me because I was crying so much.

I'm sure they probably thought I was overreacting, but I could not get it together. I was absolutely terrified. Natalie was so sweet and told me we didn't have to do anything until Dr. Rone got there and we could then discuss our options. Once he was there, I calmed down a bit. He again told me that we didn't have to go through with the induction, but after a week of worrying about the baby I knew that I couldn't wait any longer. We decided that he would break my water and I could move around my room and see if labor would start on its own. If it didn't, then we would start Pitocin later on. After an exam, we learned that I was 3 cm and baby had dropped a bit(thank you, labor massage!). Something about having progressed a little eased my mind a little bit. He broke my water, which didn't hurt. Once that was over, I calmed down a little. The decision was made, there was no turning back. I think my mind needed that concrete decision instead of the constant back and forth I had been dealing with for the past week.

With Maddox's heart still being weird, I had to be hooked up to monitors the whole time. That meant that I couldn't use the shower or labor tub or move very far from my bed, but it was still more freedom than I had with Sawyer's birth. I was able to bounce and rock on the birthing ball and stretch my back out. Dr. Rone had mentioned that it could take 5-6 hours after breaking my water for labor to actually start, so David and I watched Grey's Anatomy while we waited. During that time I had a few small contractions, but nothing worse than the Braxton Hicks I had been having for weeks.

It's probably important to note that even though I was hooked up to the monitors, it was almost impossible for them to get a good idea of what Maddox's heart was doing. It was dropping beats, adding beats, and generally being all over the place and the machine couldn't figure it out. At one point, the machine was reporting that his heart rate was dangerously low. The nurses came in and started suiting up for a c-section, they put an oxygen mask on me, and I started freaking out again. Later, after Maddox was born, Kendra informed me that there was a whole team of doctors and nurses outside my door ready to spring into action. But thankfully, Dr. Rone is amazing. He was seated calmly at the ultrasound machine watching baby's heart. He did say that it was impossible for them to really know what was going on with Maddox's heart, but that we were ok for now because his heart was doing what it had been doing all along. I am so, so thankful for him and his patience. I will also say that obviously, if a c-section were needed, I wouldn't have hesitated to do it. But I do also believe that sometimes patients are rushed into them when they don't need to happen. So I am grateful for a doctor who advocated for me and did his best to ensure that I was given the best chance at getting that birth that I wanted.

After that, Dr. Rone said that we could either switch to internal monitoring (basically screwing a monitor into baby's head) or go on and do Pitocin. For whatever reason, the thought of that internal monitor upset me so much and he didn't bring it up again. So we opted for Pitocin. We had to wait a bit before starting because they weren't sure how to calculate the dosage since they couldn't get an accurate reading on his heart rate. They eventually decided to start me off on the lowest dose possible (1) and if needed they could eventually up it to a 4 (for the record, the normal dosage is 8).

I was so scared of those Pitocin contractions. I've heard so many horror stories about how bad Pitocin contractions hurt and that you basically go from 0-60 with no warm up contractions. I knew how badly the contractions sucked with Sawyer, and those were without Pitocin. I didn't have much faith in myself that I would be able to make it without an epidural. When the first one hit, it was pretty awful, but I was able to work through it. It was hard for me to find a position that was comfortable. Sitting on the ball made them unbearable, hands and knees was awful. Eventually I ended up basically leaning on David and swaying back and forth, while he held me up and grabbing onto Kendra's (my sister) hands. They were both amazing at reminding me to breathe and relax and I'm thankful for that. Eventually, they upped my dose to a 2. I'm a lightweight when it comes to medicine (sinus meds make me loopy), so I guess my body responded pretty well to the Pitocin. Before I knew it, those contractions were coming one right after the other, with no break in between.

You know those birth stories where the women are so calm and just breathe and their baby comes flying out with a bunch of rainbows and butterflies? Yeah, that was not me. I'm pretty sure I was mooing like a cow at one point. Who knows. I remember saying, "No no no no" any time another contraction started. I was pretty whiny. There was a moment when I was on the floor with my head on the bed and Dr. Rone came in and was way too cheerful and I told him that I didn't want him, I wanted the anesthesiologist. He told me it was too late for that. At that point, another contraction hit and baby felt like he was coming out. That's when everything got real. I somehow got into the bed for Dr. Rone to check me. The rest is kind of a blur.

In my head, it was not time for the baby to come. Sawyer's birth lasted 13.5 hours with 3 hours of pushing. It had only been about an hour and a half since we started the Pitocin. I couldn't catch my breath and then all of a sudden everyone was telling me to push. Random voices stood out- I heard Kendra telling me to push and that I could do it. I heard Dr. Rone telling me he could see his head and I told him no, that it was poop (what can I say- labor is not glamorous). I remember holding David's hand while he and someone else held me up, because I was in some weird half squat position.

And then holy cow- the pushing. I've read stories and they all talk about the ring of fire. They were right. I felt like I was outside of my body. It was so surreal. The whole room of doctors and nurses were cheering me on and for the first time, I felt excitement. It was time to meet my baby. The little baby that I had been talking to for 9 months was about to be earthside and in my arms.

That first push to get baby's head out was so intense, the shoulders were even worse. And then, it was over and he was here. 2 hours of active labor and 3 pushes. It happened so fast that they didn't even get the bed ready. Dr. Rone gave him to me right away while we waited to cut his cord. I remember saying "That hurt so bad!" To which David replied, "It's over. He's here, he's reaching for you."

I already knew that I wouldn't get the immediate skin to skin time that I had with Sawyer. I knew that they would have to take him away to check out his heart. But man, when it's actually happening and they're taking your new baby from you...It sucks. They took him into the adjoining room and David went with him. They checked out his heart and it was still being crazy, so they prepped him to take him up to the NICU. That was when my amazing nurse spoke up and said that mama should get to see him again first. So I got another quick snuggle and they and David went up to the NICU.

The next hour and a half was the longest time of my life. Maddox was born at 6:38 and shift change in the NICU was at 7, so from 7-8 no one was allowed in. Once 8pm came around, Kendra wheeled me upstairs and after a mishap at the hand-washing sink, I finally, finally got to hold and nurse my baby boy.

He ended up only needing to stay in the NICU for about 4 hours and the sweet nurse let me stay up there with him the whole time. Let me tell you, the NICU gives you all kinds of perspective. Here I was, complaining about Maddox being there for 4 hours. My healthy, full-term baby who was too big for most of the NICU equipment. And all around me were sick babies who were there for weeks and months. It's eyeopening and makes you count your blessings.

Overall, after such an anxiety-filled week leading up to his birth, I'm confident that I made the right decision. This was reaffirmed when Dr. Rone showed us Maddox's umbilical cord. It had what's called a "true knot" in it, though his wasn't super tight. I made the mistake of googling it. Dr. Rone says they may see about 15 of them a year. If the knot is a true knot and is tightened all the way, the baby can have brain damage, cerebral palsy, or die the last few weeks in utero. All the what ifs ran through my mind and even though he's here and healthy, I still find myself thinking, "What if I had waited another week and the cord tightened and he died?" It's terrifying. I am so, so thankful that Maddox came when he did and that he's healthy.

Though this isn't really part of Maddox's birth story, I do want to remember it so I'm adding it here. No one really prepares you for the moment your first baby meets your second baby. Since Maddox was born in the evening and didn't get out of the NICU until late, Sawyer didn't get to meet him until the next day. He walked in and my tears started. How someone's heart is capable of loving two little people so much is beyond me, but man...My heart felt like it was going to burst. Sawyer climbed up in the bed with us and snuggled in and checked out baby Twix. He gave him the stuffed fox that he picked out for him. I'm still not sure what he thought and it's definitely been a rough adjustment for him at home, but I just know these two are going to best friends.

When all is said and done, I'm just so lucky to have had the doctor that I did. I can't sing his praises enough. I know without a doubt that if he hadn't been there, I would have had a completely different birth experience. I am proud of myself for sticking it out and pushing through, even when I thought I couldn't. I'm thankful for my husband and sister for cheering me on and supporting me and for telling me over and over again that I could do it.

And I am so, so thankful for my sweet Sawyer Penn and Maddox Kent. I am the luckiest.

Maddox Kent Crossen, named after my grandfather, Kenneth, my great-granny Kenney, and my sister, Kendra. 10/13/17. 6:28pm. 8lbs, 4 oz. 20.5 inches long.

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