Friday, January 19, 2018

Henry's Birth Story

It seems that sharing "birth stories" has become trendy these days and honestly I didn't think I would jump on the bandwagon, but if I have learned anything from being pregnant and being a mom for three weeks, it's that support and encouragement and help from others is more than necessary to get through this. So, if sharing my story can help someone relate now or in the future to my experience, then I will share, because going through this process is not something to do alone and it's not at all easy and you should know (as I am still teaching myself daily and will be apparently for the next 18 years), that it takes strength and perseverance and complete faith. And now that I am a complete softie mom, it takes moms helping other moms every step of the way (shout out to the random mom in the Nordstrom Mother's Lounge simply offering a smile when I was obviously struggling to get my nursing cover on!!).

I could not have made it through the past 10 months without the love and help of those around me- my mom and sister being the most help, but also friends from church and elsewhere, my coworkers, friends on Instagram and even coworkers of my husband and mom. Thank you once again!

And now for the juicy part... 

Around my 36th week of pregnancy, my blood pressure started to rise and I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension, meaning a high blood pressure caused by pregnancy (I didn't and don't have high blood pressure normally). My due date was January 6 but I was taken out of work to stay home and rest around mid December, with the plan to induce me before 39 weeks, but as close to 39 weeks as possible. The two weeks at home pre-baby and right around Christmas was pretty nice. I never wanted to have a baby this close to Christmas, but it was a little too late for that now! The week between Christmas and New Years was my 38th week so we decided to plan the induction for December 26th, a Tuesday. Knowing when we were going into the hospital was kind of perfect for my controlling-self who loved the ability to get the house all clean, new sheets on the bed, and everything in perfect position for our return home with a new baby. We were able to enjoy the holiday and the last time with my family before we welcomed the newest member, and it was truly a special time.

We were told to come into the hospital at 10pm on December 26th to start the induction. Les  (my husband) went to work that day, I rested, and then we went out to our favorite local restaurant for our "last supper"! Driving to the hospital, with our bags and car seat in the back, was surreal. Les looked at me and said "I have never felt like more of a grown-up". It was really a special moment for both of us.

We went up to the 6th floor, where the triage and labor & delivery unit were. The first room we were in was shared, but we were only there for an hour to be checked in before moving to the Antepartum unit. It was another shared room, but the nurse said since there was no patient in the other bed, Les could sleep there for the night, which was great news. Around 11:45pm, they started the initial process by administering Misoprostol- a medication that helps to soften the cervix (helps to dilate) and initiate contractions. My contractions began immediately and came every 5 minutes, but not yet painful. About an hour later, I developed cramping, which is expected with this medication as the cervix softens but was a bit more painful as they progressed. At this point, I began to realize that getting a restful night of sleep was not happening. Around 1:30am, the nurse came in and started IV fluids and asked me to roll over to my other side in bed. She told me the baby's heart rate was dropping with each contraction and they needed to attempt some maneuvers to stop this from happening. This didn't work, so around 2am, they placed an oxygen mask on me, which finally helped the fetal heart rate decelerations (would allow the baby to receive more oxygen). I was able to take this off about an hour later as things improved.

Around 4am, the resident doctor returned to check the progress of my cervix. I was only 2cm dilated, which is not as much as they expected or had hoped for. They told me they would need to place a Cooks Catheter in my cervix to help with mechanical dilation and speed the process up. The catheter would either stay in for a maximum of 12 hours or fall out sooner if it did its job to dilate. I have a high pain tolerance and let me tell you, this was very painful! As soon as the doctor left the room, I began sobbing. Up until now, due to the heart rate drops, they wouldn't let me have any pain medication so as not to worsen things. I was really uncomfortable and this catheter made things significantly worse. By 5am, an hour later, the doctor finally approved a dose of IV Fentanyl and Benadryl. I was so thankful and this actually helped me sleep until about 7:45am. For the rest of the morning, it was pretty much Les and I hanging out in our room, watching tv, and waiting on things to progress.

Around noon, the nurse came in and asked me what my plan was for an epidural and if I had thought about it. I had no clue if asking for one "this early" made me look like a big baby or if it was time! I stuck it out for another hour and a half (because I honestly didn't want to seem pathetic, which was a huge mistake!) and around 1:30pm, finally asked for the epidural. They moved me into the Labor and Delivery unit, where we had a big private room. There was a nice couch for Les to sleep on, too. The anesthesiologist placed the epidural without difficulty around 2:30pm AND IT WAS LIKE HEAVEN! Holy smokes, I am a believer! They removed the Cooks Catheter around 4pm, as it still had not dilated me as much as they hoped. After the epidural, because you can't get up and walk around after that, they placed a urinary catheter (after being pregnant for 9 months, not feeling the urge to pee constantly for once was amazing!) They began the IV Pitocin (a synthetic version of the hormone Oxytocin, which causes your uterus to contract during labor) around that time but it was ok, because I could not feel a thing; however, when they told us the Pitocin could take another 24-48 hours till delivery we were so disheartened (initially my outpatient doctor made it sound like the entire induction from start to delivery would be no longer than 48 hours- we didn't know the first part was all just preparation!). I am so glad I asked for the epidural when I did looking back!

The rest of the afternoon and early evening was a blur for me. The baby's heart rate continued to decelerate at the end of every contraction, but still at a manageable rate and not anything life threatening. They moved me a lot in bed, placed oxygen on and off, and continued pumping IV fluids. More doctors started coming into the room more frequently- I saw the attending a lot! My family visited me around 8pm, figuring it would likely be well into the next day before baby boy arrived. Around 9pm, the attending was going to artificially rupture my membranes (ie make my water break) but I was still not dilated enough. At 11pm, my water broke on its own in bed. WHAT a weird feeling! The baby's heart rate continued to drop with each, more frequent contraction and the nurses and doctors were in and out of my room almost every 5-10 minutes checking me, turning the Pitocin on and off, turning me in bed, etc. They determined something was likely compressing the umbilical cord, so they even tried re-instilling fluid back into the space between the baby and cord, using another catheter, to relieve the compression/create a cushion, but this did not work. Around 1am, the attending came to speak to Les and I and informed us the baby was simply not tolerating labor and the safest and best decision would be to proceed with a c-section. We were obviously agreeable to this.

Les quickly called both his and my families. He was given a jumpsuit, hat, and shoe covers to wear for the OR and quickly gowned up. We were prepped and taken to the OR. For a c-section, they pump extra Fentanyl into your epidural so you are still awake, but can't feel anything but light pressure from the waist down. Les sat by my head behind the curtain- I am still surprised he didn't faint!

At 2:28am on December 28, 2018, our son Hendrick Johnson Eisel was born! He weighed 8lbs, 7oz and was 20.5 inches long! Oh my...that first little cry brought a tear to my eyes. Les helped bring him over to the warmer with the nurse, all while snapping photos at the anesthesiologist's direction:) I could turn my head to the left to see our little guy- so adorable with a full head of hair! He passed his initial testing with flying colors!

The next two hours were extremely hard for me. Due to the effects of the anesthesia, I had a very severe shiver and was shaking uncontrollably. It was so uncomfortable and painful. They offered medication to combat this, but it would make me more drowsy- something I didn't want right before meeting my son. As they closed up my incision on the table, I could barely breathe and kept having to ask for more oxygen. It was pretty uncomfortable.

They brought me to recovery, where I finally got to see our son but the shivers continued and our initial time together was really hard. My sweet family came in to see me- at 3:30am! They visited quickly, before we were brought back to postpartum. The nurses offered to take Henry to the nursery for a few hours so we could sleep and although I felt so guilty to say yes, this was the best offer I could imagine at that point. Due to the c-section, we didn't get that initial immediate skin-to-skin time, nor did I get to attempt breastfeeding him immediately. In the nursery, he actually had low blood sugar so they had to give him some formula to boost that. They also wanted to monitor him for a bit as he was grunting in the recovery room- a sign of respiratory distress in newborns- but his oxygen levels and color were fine so they passed it off as just a noisy baby!

Since that was "delivery day", we stayed in the hospital for 4 days after that and left on New Year's Day 2018. During those days, Henry's weight dropped more than 11% from his birth weight (which was likely inflated from all the fluids I had, but hindsight is 20/20 and I guess they don't factor that in?) and his bilirubin was elevated at the 3-day check so we had to fix those issues, but are thankful they happened in the hospital and not at home. He pooped a few times on day one, but then didn't move his bowels again for about 3 days, which is how they excrete the bili. For these reasons, and because he was not latching well at our attempts to breastfeed, they had me start supplementing with formula immediately. Our "feeding" journey so far has been difficult and there is more information on that than I have room for here! It's something that I know a lot people struggle with and if you are reading this, please know the struggle is not alone.

Henry is doing wonderfully now. He has regained all his weight and more and is such an amazing little boy. There have been no repercussions from the distress he was in during labor and we are so thankful for a happy and healthy son.

All in all, I would say my labor and delivery was challenging, but it is funny to look back now and realize how small that was in the grand scheme of things! To have a little baby in my arms makes it all seem worthwhile. I am so thankful for a husband who was by my side every step of the way to support, encourage, and comfort me. I could not have gotten through our hospital stay and the first two weeks after without him!

The real journey is only just beginning but I am excited for each obstacle and challenge that lies before me, because I know God has so much work to do in my heart and in my life through Henry.

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