Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Samuel Benjamin, birth story

Samuel Benjamin
born Saturday, March 7th, 2009
5:01 p.m.
8 pounds, 5 ounces
21 inches long

the sweetest, most mellow little guy

The week proceeding Samuel's birth I had been contracting off and on, nothing too painful but as the weekend approached they were growing stronger and closer together. I had my 39 week check-up on Friday and the nurse practitioner announced I was at 3 cm, 70% effaced, and my induction was scheduled for the next day. She stripped my membranes to help get things along.

Friday night my contractions came more frequently and by Saturday morning I definitely felt as if I was in the early stages of labor. We called in at 11 and were admitted shortly after 12:30pm. After the initial paperwork was completed I met the first members of my birthing team, a student nurse and RN Candyce (who assisted us with the start of my first labor). They hooked me up to the monitors and the student nurse got to work on my IV. After two failed attempts, Candyce stepped in for a teaching moment. In the past, I've had two or three vasovagal responses when punctured. Once I passed out on the floor of the John Muir lab after giving blood. Yeah, awkward. The problem is, it's an involuntary response so you never know when it's going to strike.

So I was feeling fine until Candyce stepped in and started explaining what went wrong, how the vein likes to hide when it is invaded, etc., and with the sharp puncture I immediately knew I was in trouble. No amount of self-therapy and positive talk was saving me from the inevitable--I started sweating and feeling nauseous. They reclined my bed immediately, put my head down below my heart, got cold compresses, but my blood pressure was plummeting. 

Dr. Wells, Daddy, Mama & Sam

I could hear Samuel's heartbeat slow drastically in response to my own low pressure. I remember thinking that it was taking me longer to recover than I remembered in the past. I was not yet feeling better. Just as soon as I started to recover, I had a pretty strong contraction. Samuel had recovered quickly but with the added stress of a contraction his heart rate slowed yet again. It was only a few minutes but I was struck with how quickly things could change. If he didn't regain his strength, we'd be off to an emergency delivery.

Thankfully everyone recovered and they decided to hold off on the pitocin until we had a good thirty minutes or more of normal contractions to see how he would hold up. The little trooper did great and by 2:15, almost two hours after arriving, they started the pitocin. Candyce checked my cervix at some point and announced I came in at 1 1/2 cm, not 3, though I was at least 80% effaced. So far, the experience was a little frustrating. 

Maddie sees Samuel for the first time,
"Look, Grammy! It's a baby! A new one!"

But within minutes my contractions grew stronger and longer, causing some pause and requiring deep breaths. In a half hour I progressed from 1 1/2 cm to 5, and by 3:15 I was feeling the pain. After the student nurse came in to check on me, I realized I was ready for the epidural. It was a really quiet day in L & D and the anesthesiologist arrived in less than 10 minutes. But by this point I was really feeling the contractions, down deep, starting out like an intense menstrual cramp and then taking over my abdomen with a hard, tight, clenching feeling. Every time I would close my eyes and try not to fight the pain but reminded myself to open up and move Samuel down.

As I was prepped for the epidural, I noticed that sitting up seemed more productive and when hunched over I felt more in control of my contractions. The placement of the epidural was quick and painless but the contractions continued to grow stronger. Candyce laid me down for another cervix check and laughed to say I was approaching 8 cm, and she was going to call Dr. Wells, my ob/gyn, to let him know this baby would be here soon. I laughed, too, and told Ben that so far this labor was looking a lot more promising than my 18-hour ordeal with Maddie.

Mama loves her little boy

The laughter didn't last long as the epidural was only working in part. My left side was feeling some relief but there was still a strong and undeniable tightness in my lower right quadrant. On top of that, I was feeling the strong urge to pee all over the table. I asked when the catheter would be inserted because I felt like I was working so hard to keep from going to the bathroom everywhere. The nurses let me know the catheter would go in when I was completely numb and to let them know if I felt the urge to push.

I was far from numb. The anesthesiologist came back in 10 minutes and my pain was less but the pressure was huge and my right side was still hurting. He tried pulling the epidural catheter out a bit to see if it would distribute more evenly. By nearly 9 cm dilation, after a number of pretty intense contractions, the epidural finally took. 

big sister Maddie couldn't wait to hold him

Turns out Dr. Wells was in a doctor's office himself, getting some steroid injections in an injured toe, and ordered the team to stop the pitocin because the soonest he could get to the hospital would be 20 minutes or more. I laughed in disbelief as I looked at the clock. My baby would be here by 5!

I had some pain relief but was able to feel an intense amount of pressure and the urge to push. Doctor Wells arrived in a polo shirt, khaki shorts and tennis shoes. He asked Ben about his interest in delivering Samuel and with Ben's emphatic yes, helped Ben suit up in scrubs and gloves. They moved a mirror in close so I could see the delivery and as Ben was explaining how to use our camera to a nurse who would film Samuel's arrival, I announced that under no uncertain terms was I ready to push this baby out!

ready to go home, a peanut in his car seat

After about 3 contractions' worth of pushing I looked down to see Samuel just moments away from delivery. With each push it felt like a beehive was buzzing in my nether regions! It took about 15-20 minutes of pushing, an episiotomy and some "gentle tearing" and Samuel was delivered by his Daddy's strong hands onto his Mama's waiting chest. 

Aaahh, relief! In the video I am heard saying, "Oh, it's so much better when he's out!" (meaning, no longer pushing or needing to push). He was covered in vernix, white and creamy, and the doctor remarked on his extra long umbilical cord, more like a jump rope. We joked that Samuel must have been jump roping inside all that time. 

Of course I cried when he was placed on my chest but immediately started laughing with joy at my perfect little boy. He fussed a bit but then settled right down with his big, wide, steely-blue eyes looking all around. I noticed immediately that he looked different from Maddie, his very own little face, and a very wrinkly body whereas Maddie's had seemed so round and filled out. He seemed smaller.

The moment of truth revealed he was about 1 ounce bigger than Maddie, and the same length, with these incredibly long feet and toes. A perfect little bundle! All in all, it took 2 hours 45 minutes from the time the pitocin was started until he made his appearance. He was whisked away to the warmer to regain some of his body temperature and the masses arrived to greet him: Grammy with big sister Maddie, then Great-Aunt Cheryl, Tutu, Boppa, and Auntie Jennie. Kelly, Bridgette and Susan visited in L & D as he nursed for the first time, a whopping 55 minutes of latched-on feeding. Hooray!

Samuel is the sweetest and most mellow little guy. He has completely captured our hearts and his sister Maddie is absolutely smitten. We are grateful to God for an easy delivery, healthy baby, and especially for the gift of another life to love. We love being a family of four!


bonnieb said...

A beautiful description of an indescribable moment. Thank you.

The Ulrickson Fam said...

Love, love, love the post, love the pics, love the little man. Hope things are going well!!! Big kisses from all of us!

Sanctification said...

He's so perfect oh my gosh, he is just so perfect! I love him. Wish we were there with you. Cannot wait to see him and hold him. Love that maddie girl too!

:D michele