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December 01, 2015

Errol's Birth Story

It happened, people: we had our baby!

It's taken awhile for me to blog about this happy occurrence because, apparently, parenting is really hard and time-consuming? Who knew.

The laws of nature dictated that my delivery was an inevitability, but in my pregnant, beached-whale state, it was beginning to feel like my life was to be spent as a perpetually growing mass forevermore.

October 5, due date.

By my due date, October 5th, I had become rather morose because, as I established in my last blog post, I was incredibly done with being pregnant. I had basically become the Blob.

I just kept getting bigger and bigger. It seemed to be defying reason.

Two or three weeks before my due date, my fundal height (measurement of the uterus) started measuring bigger than expected. I was already dilated 3 centimeters two weeks before my due date, at which point I had a membrane sweep (Sept. 24). Sadly, it didn't do anything but give me cramps.

September 24
Due to the fundal height measurement, I had an ultrasound a week before my due date to get an estimate of the size of the baby (Sept. 28). The estimation was 8 pounds, 11 ounces.

At my doctor's appointment the week before my due date (Oct. 1), my doctor said that I likely had a lot of amniotic fluid, which made me feel better because I figured maybe that accounted for the large fundal height measurement. At this point, I was still 3 centimeters, maybe even 4. My doctor did another sweep, which, again, resulted in nothing but cramps.

October 1. Make the madness stop!
Considering I was already at a 3 or 4 and that I'd had my membranes swept twice, I was pretty disappointed that nothing had happened by my due date. No contractions and not even Braxton Hicks. And my discomfort was simply flourishing.

I hadn't tried any old wives methods to induce labor because most involve putting yourself in some form of discomfort, and I was already in enough discomfort. But the night of my due date I did try one method. I'll let you guess which one.

Either this method was effective or our little guy is pretty punctual because at 2:30 a.m. on October 6th, my water broke.

And boy, did it break. The doctor was, indeed, correct in her prediction of the voluminous state of my uterus.

I am still impressed with myself for how immediately I woke up, sprung out of bed, and ran to the bathtub.

And thanks to my haste, I miraculously managed to avoid getting any fluid on the bed. Oh, how I wish I could have seen my pregnant self leaping forth from the bed and sprinting to the bathroom.

It truly would have been a sight to behold. I displayed the nimbleness and dexterity of the incomparable Chris Farley.

I called to Eric that my water had broke as I ran then stood in the tub as my underoos continued to be drenched. Admittedly, it's kind of a cool feeling having your water break. But there is absolutely no controlling it.

Eric came in and we looked at each other for a bit with that dazed, deer-in-the-headlights look.

Once we collected ourselves, Eric started getting excited about what was happening.

But I, although brimming with excitement, quickly became all business; which is actually very similar to how we both reacted when we got our positive pregnancy test.

I was never really scared about labor and delivery (especially since I have always been adamant that I would have an epidural, assuming it was feasible). I looked at it as an exciting challenge with a pretty awesome payoff.

So this was game time!

My doctor had told me that since I likely had a lot of amniotic fluid I should go to the hospital as soon as my water broke, which I ended up appreciating because then I didn't have to concern myself with counting contractions and minutes.

However, I had been expecting to have some warning in the form of contractions. I'd wanted to at least shower and shave my legs; not due to vanity, but just for my own comfort. But nope -- I was a greasy, top-knotted mess with prickly legs.

I hosed myself off and got dressed while Eric took orders on what was left to pack. We ended up being so overpacked that it was laughable. We probably didn't use a third of what we packed. Rookie mistake. Even at the time I knew packing makeup was a joke, but I did it anyway. Sweet, naive Paige.

As I waddled around getting ready, I started to get mild contractions. Not too bad at all considering I've had worse menstrual cramps.

I was all dressed, I'd peed for the umpteenth time, and we were all packed and ready to go, when -- GOOSH! My water absolutely soaked me.

And I was even wearing one of the most heavy-duty pads I've ever seen. I had to change all over again. Which was a real problem because there were a limited number of clothes that still fit me.

Luckily I didn't get my shoes too bad -- they were basically the only ones that still fit me. But I figured I'd better switch out to my ill-fitting flipflops in case it happened again.

We wanted to have Eric give me a priesthood blessing, but I was worried I'd soak myself again; so Eric gave me a blessing while I sat on the toilet -- yup, labor is super glamorous.

Then we were finally on our way to the hospital, which is only about 7 minutes away in middle-of-the-night traffic. It was somewhere around 3:30 a.m. when we got to the hospital.

We parked, and as I got out of the car -- GOOSH! Soaked myself again.

Not much that could be done about it at that point, though; so I got to waddle around the hospital with sopping wet pants, swollen (and now wet) feet that were exploding out of my shoes, a massive belly, and progressing contractions.

We knew labor and delivery was on the sixth floor, but we weren't sure how to get to the sixth floor. So unfortunately for me, we had to do some wandering around while my contractions ramped up and I was dripping away. Eventually I just stopped in the hallway and made Eric go on to do reconnaissance work.

Turns out we walked right by the elevators we needed to go in. And I'd even seen them and thought, "I bet that's going to end up being where we need to go."

We got checked in at labor and delivery where the nurse gave me my hospital gear to change into. I was pretty psyched to be getting out of my wet clothing, and dang, those mesh underwear are comfortable! And super sexy.

The nurse took a look at my pad and said there was a little meconium (fetus poop), which I was surprised by because I had checked for it when my water broke the first time and it looked very clear to me; maybe a slight yellow tinge. Certainly not greenish or brownish. But I suppose it looked a little more brownish at the hospital. So I deferred to the nurse's judgement.

Because there was meconium present, we were informed that it was protocol for the NICU team to be present during the birth to suction out baby's lungs and make sure he's breathing well, etc... But as of right then, everything was fine. I was hooked up to the monitors in our waiting room, and baby's heart rate and mine were fine.

Contractions were starting to be a little more frequent and slightly more painful. Still quite manageable, though. Eric would rub my back in between contractions, and during contractions I just wanted everyone to leave me alone.

My water was still breaking away. I'd put on a fresh pad and bam! Soaked again.

Eventually I got annoyed with the whole process and just had them give me a towel to sit on.

The nurse offered me the laughing gas, and I'm all about limiting pain; so until I could got my epidural, I was happy to accept the gas.

It doesn't actually really eliminate the pain, but it helps you breathe and focus. It worked really well for me. I'd be dizzy and lightheaded at the end of a contraction, but small price to pay.

The worst contraction I had was probably the one right before I started using the gas. But even that worst contraction was only slightly worse than the worst menstrual cramps I've ever had. Gives you ladies a sense of how bad my periods can be. This whole time my ovaries have just been preparing me for labor. They Miyagi'd me.

My delivery room was ready somewhere around 6-6:30 a.m. So I got out of the bed to put on a pad to limit my drip trail to the delivery room, and in so doing -- GOOSH! All over the floor of the waiting room. Again, good thing I was wearing those flipflops. There's just no controlling that uterus.

My contractions weren't agonizing, but it was a tad bothersome to have to walk with them. But I had the trusty gas tank with me. I remember being annoyed that the nurse was walking so fast, though.

I was about 5 or 6 centimeters when I moved to my delivery room. I didn't realize you can get epidurals this early in labor. So it was a real treat for me when they said I was ready for my epidural and brought in the anesthesiologist. I was prepared to labor on my own for a while yet, but you want to give me the juice now? Be my guest.

Getting the epidural wasn't a big deal. It's just a prick, like any other needle/freezing. But it seems my mother and I have something wonky going on with our spines because both she and I had issues with the placement. We both had leg spasms, which means they have to try again. So I got poked a few times. Totally worth it, though.

It took about 10 minutes to really set in, but once it did... mmm. Heaven.

The anesthesiologist came back in at that point to see how I was doing, and I wanted to throw myself at his feet and worship the very ground he walked on.

From this point until I was ready to push (3:30 p.m.), it was nap time. That's right ladies who forego epidurals and labor in pain for hours, I got to nap, essentially pain-free, on and off for about nine hours. Which I'm sure Eric appreciated because it also meant he got to nap in his recliner for nine hours.

I was saving this gif to describe childbirth in the birth story post:

However, with the epidural, this really does not apply anymore. I think I was in more pain and discomfort when I had food poisoning years ago. I actually enjoyed labor and delivery. It's exciting -- makes you feel alive! But that's probably not the case when it feels like a thousand knives stabbing you all over your body. I just don't understand why some women don't have epidurals when it is feasible to do so. It's so much unnecessary pain and stress that they're putting themselves and their babies through. But that's my opinion. Back to the birth story...

The napping was fantastic, but it was pretty interrupted. Every so often I'd need to have my blood pressure checked, freezing checked, relieve my bladder, which I needed assistance with because my legs were jelly. They reminded me of Tim Conway's dentist sketch in The Carol Burnett Show.

Every time they'd ask me how I wanted to go about emptying my bladder, I'd think I could do it myself in the bedpan. Nope. Muchos frozen. My bladder would not listen to me. So then they'd have to use a temporary catheter, which wasn't a big deal considering it was the ice age down there and I couldn't feel a thing.

My main nurse, who was great, had a student nurse with her. While I was pregnant and considering how labor and delivery would go, I thought it would be a big deal to me to have as few people in the delivery room as possible. But once I was actually in the situation and remembered I have little to no shame in such instances, I couldn't have cared less (*and it's a good thing too).

My main nurse said she appreciated said lack of shame, but honestly, the sooner you let your dignity go in the whole labor and delivery process, the better.

There is absolutely no room for dignity in this process.

I was even so gracious as to let the main nurse feel for my dilation and then the student nurse would have a turn. I'm just so magnanimous. Again, couldn't feel a thing down there.

And if I started to feel twinges of pain, I could just press my magical little blue button and receive a fresh dose of the juice. Mmm.

Although I wasn't in pain, I did get nauseous at one point and threw up a tiny amount. But I felt fine after I threw up, and they hooked me up to a drip to help with the nausea. By the end of this process I had so many drips: IV, epidural, nausea meds, and oxytocin. Yay for modern day medicine.

At about 2:30 p.m. I was dilated to 10, but baby wasn't quite in the position they wanted him in. So they said I could start pushing or wait an hour and lie in positions that would help baby move. I was in no pain, so why not wait to make conditions as ideal as possible.

Baby boy had been doing great this whole time. The doctor and nurses kept commenting on how he was the happiest baby that day because through contractions his heart rate would be great. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that his mother wasn't in pain or stressed at all.

At 3:30 p.m., they checked baby, and he'd moved the way they wanted him to. So we were all set for pushing. I couldn't feel the contractions, so we'd have to feel my stomach for when it tightened and then I'd push. The doctor and the nurse said I was doing really good at pushing. I don't know why someone wouldn't be good at it; it's pretty innate, and there have kind of been opportunities to practice it before...

The doctor wanted me to have realistic expectations and told me that since this was my first baby it could take between an hour and a half to three hours of pushing. I was hopeful that it would be on the lower end of those options since my pushing was being praised. The pushing didn't hurt, but it was definitely strenuous.

I eventually laid off the blue button a bit so I could feel the contractions better, and the doctor decided to start me on oxytocin to get my contractions going a bit more.

I tried a few different positions for pushing, and 'bout near killed myself trying a squatting position on the end of the bed, holding onto the bar. Silly jelly legs.

The position I seemed to be doing the best pushing with was just sitting hunched over while the nurse and Eric held my legs (my very prickly legs). This put a ton of strain on my neck and shoulders, though.

Eric would do the counting during contractions. Initially he was going at a faster pace, but the nurse eventually told him to slow down. With the slower counting I'd be so out of breath by the end of the pushing and, although Eric was doing an excellent job counting, I'd kind of want to punch him by the end of a contraction.

After three hours, they could see baby's head, but that was it.

And I was exhausted. My neck and shoulders were killing me. The doctor said I could keep trying, but we might need to consider assisted birth (forceps or vacuum). I wanted to avoid that if I could; so I pushed for another half hour.

But nada. The doctor saw how exhausted I was and how ineffective my pushes were becoming and called it. By that point I was more than happy to oblige and throw in the towel.

I chose the vacuum. Something about the forceps (salad tongs) just gives me the willies. Both seem like they'd hurt baby's head, but more so the tongs. They look very pinchy.

With the assisted birth decision made, the doctor and nurses finished prepping and called in the NICU team, which meant another five or six people staring at my lady bits. But oh well. The doctor situated the vacuum, which just translated to pressure for me, not pain, and it was go time.

The doctor turned the vacuum on and told me to push, which in my wearied state I hadn't considered I'd have to keep doing, and to be honest, I was a little miffed. She was just supposed to suck my baby right out of there while I relaxed. But sadly, that's not how it works. So I started pushing again. Oof.

There were some issues with the suction because, as it turned out, baby boy had a good head of hair. But that wasn't going to be the only issue. There was a pretty significant reason that baby boy was having a hard time getting through the birth canal, and that reason is that he was ginormous. So much for an 8 pound baby like the ultrasound predicted. And I did have a lot of amniotic fluid, and somehow that and my huge baby fit in me.

The vacuum and pushing got his head through, but his shoulders got stuck (shoulder dystocia). In our case, it kept being described as severe shoulder dystocia. This necessitated that the delivering doctor call a code blue. It still kind of makes my heart drop when I see the definition of a code blue.

Code blue: An emergency situation announced in a hospital in which a patient is in cardiopulmonary arrest, requiring a team of providers to rush to the specific location and begin immediate resuscitative efforts.

I had no idea any of this was going on at the time, though. I knew crazy stuff was happening because the vibe in the room changed pretty suddenly, and when I opened my eyes after pushing, there were an extra 4 or 5 people in the room. So now there were about 12 people in total watching the show*.

The delivering doctor sliced me once, but it wasn't enough, so she went back for seconds -- third degree tears.

Couldn't feel it at the time, but man, did I feel it later.

All of this was just more pressure. Lots of pressure.Then with the incisions made, the doctor grabbed baby, I pushed with all I had left in me...

...and our little Errol was born! Bruised, swollen, and ginormous, but wonderful.

Errol Stewart Fizzell, born at 6:48 p.m. on October 6, 2015, measuring a whopping 9 pounds 14 ounces, 21.5 inches.
The whole process happened so fast, and I was so focused on doing everything I could to help the procedure go smoothly that I was oblivious, which was probably for the best. But poor Eric was completely aware of everything going on, and he saw all the gory glory. That whole mess didn't bother him (morbid curiosity), but the brief panic left him momentarily shellshocked .

Once Errol was delivered, the NICU team took over and suctioned his lungs, at which point he let out a cry. Hearing him for the first time and knowing that he was okay thawed my cold, stoic heart and made me cry. My heart grew three sizes that day.

Throughout the day the nurses had commented on how calm and laid back Eric and I were, but emotions abounded after Errol's delivery.

The meconium had been reason enough for the nurses to forewarn me that I might not get to hold Errol after he was born; so I figured with all that had happened they would definitely be whisking him away to the NICU. So I was pleasantly surprised when someone from the NICU brought him over to me and plopped him down on my chest..

Our first meeting. That washcloth and ice chips were lifesavers.

Love this boy.
They were stitching me up during these pictures, but thanks to the epidural I got to just focus on mine and Errol's first meeting.

After a little cuddle time, the NICU team took Errol for tests and Eric went with them. Given Errol's size, he was pretty out of place in the NICU; they had to hunt down some non-newborn diapers that would fit him.

Some skin-to-skin with dad.
Big boy.
I stayed to get my stitches finished, get cleaned up, and rest. A specialist was there to deal with the muscle that had torn, but he had a resident with him that did the stitching. I was a little apprehensive about that one. That's not an area I want a novice messing around with.

But the resident seemed to do a fine job.

The specialist explained to me what had happened regarding my tear/episiotomy, and in a dazed state I asked him if I still had to deliver my placenta. I'd always heard that you're not finished once the baby's out; you still have to deliver the placenta. He seemed amused, considering they were stitching me up, and said it was already out. It was apparently quite large; 'twas a very effective placenta. So I had a behemoth baby, a humongous placenta, and tons of amniotic fluid. The pounds just melted off of me.

The swelling stuck around for quite a while, though, unfortunately. It actually got worse for a while after I delivered Errol. I should have taken a picture of my feet because it was really quite astounding, but I was too fed up with them at the time.

I had kind of wanted to see the placenta along with some of the birthing, via mirror (I also have a morbid curiosity), but oh well. Next time, I guess.

The delivering doctor took over the stitching after the resident was done. While she was stitching, the nurse was replacing the tape on my IV. It was pulling at my arm hair and I was wincing. the doctor apologized, thinking it was the stitches I was wincing from. I said, "Oh, no, it's the tape." She thought it was hilarious that I was cringing about tape being pulled off my arm but I was not phased at all by the stitches. Epidural's a heck of a drug. Just relaxing while my privates get stitched up.

Everyone was blown away by how big Errol was, especially coming from 5'1" me. When the nurses changed shifts, the new nurse hadn't seen Eric. She was expecting him to be some 6'4" football player. She was shocked when skinny-minnie Eric came into the room. But Eric was 9 pounds 4 ounces when he was born; so he's probably to blame.

Although a few people believe I got a false negative on my glucose test and that I actually had gestational diabetes.

Whatever the reason for big boy Errol, at least it's in my medical records so subsequent pregnancies will be monitored veeery closely.

My main nurse couldn't believe how big Errol's chest was. The delivering doctor couldn't believe I'd gotten him as far as I had on my own. I've got to imagine that if he had been an average size the whole delivery would have gone swimmingly.

Errol passed all of his NICU tests with flying colors. Oftentimes babies with shoulder dystocia can break their collar bone or arm(s); so we were very glad that he's got tough little bones. He did have a very swollen and sore head, though, poor little boy.

They kept Errol in the NICU the first night we were there to keep an eye on his lungs and to get his blood sugar up a bit. We got to go visit as much as we wanted.

Cuddles in the NICU.


But I was so wiped that it was kind of nice to just sleep most of that night. Except for the fact that the nurses came in every hour or so to poke and prod me and tell me how swollen my nether regions were. No. You don't say? I had no idea.

It was also nice that we had a private room (had to pay for it), but I kind of felt bad for kicking Harry out of his cupboard under the stairs -- the room was minuscule! And there was only a garbagey wooden glider chair with crappy cushions for Eric. So he had to makeshift a bed on the floor using pillows and cushions. He could have gone home, but he's a fantastic feller that wanted to stay with us. I sure do love him for helping me get through pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. It's been a doozy.

We got to bring Errol to our room the next afternoon, but we had to stay in the hospital one more night to make sure all was well with Errol.

Late night/early morning cuddles.

He's a champ, so it obviously was all well. So on October 8th we were on our way home to begin our floundering attempts at parenthood.

In this family we wear sweats, young man.
Ready to go home.

We love this boy more and more every day. Having him made it all worth it.

November 26; 7 weeks and 2 days.

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