August 19, 2013

The Birth Story

It should be no surprise that Seanin's labor & delivery story begins with a series of contractions that kept us wondering whether or not this was the real deal!  Tuesday morning, August 13, I had an OB appointment.  My regular doc is in the States on vacation, so I saw a shorter, less green and rather nicer version of Shrek instead.  (Seriously! Dr. N is very Shrek-like!)  When he checked me, I asked him to strip my membranes...but Seanin was so far up that he couldn't get the job done, and I told him not to push it...obviously things just weren't ready.  I was still only dilated 3 cm, which was a bit depressing after all the "fake" contractions I had been experiencing.

Well.  Maybe the check itself started things in motion, because by lunch time I was feeling DEFINITE pains.  They weren't close together...maybe every 15-20 minutes.  I tried resting; I walked on the treadmill; I paced the house.  I debated about throwing in the last few items into the hospital bag.  I alerted Ted and my L&D back-up team (Carla and Joyce, both of whom live close by and were eager and willing to help watch kids when the time FINALLY came).

Not much happened, other than the contractions continuing, sometimes every 10 minutes, sometimes 7-8 minutes apart, sometimes back to 15 minutes apart.  Sigh.  Ted came home early, but nothing of note was happening.  We ate dinner together as a family, and I got back on the treadmill while Ted read aloud from The Fellowship of the Ring.  (Which, incidentally, is the book I was reading the night I went into labor with Tobin!)

Finally it seemed that the contractions were coming closer together and feeling more intense--but not horrifically so.  Still, I remembered that the contractions with Zaden just never really got that bad at all.  Plus, everyone kept telling me that we'd better scoot to the hospital SOON because otherwise I might deliver on the side of an Italian highway.  You'd think so, right, after delivering 6 babies already?!  

But no!  It was indeed getting close to show time, but Seanin proved his mommy right over the doctor (who wanted me to move in across the street from the hospital) and took his sweet time coming.  I just don't have quick and speedy deliveries!  

At any rate, Carla came over around 8:30ish to stay with the kids.  The little boys were already in bed, and the older boys and Kenna followed not too long after, so Carla's job was fairly easy, thank goodness, and we were so glad we didn't have to call her in the middle of the night!  Charis, Ted, and I headed out the door, and I called the L&D ward on base to alert them that we were coming in.

Dr. O, the doc who saw me the night I came in with the beginnings of pre-term labor, was on call that night.  What a BLESSING!  He was a great match for our family!  (I found out later that "Dr. Shrek" had been out to dinner and had had too much he declined to drive in for my delivery.  No offense to him, but I'm thankful, ha!)  Lt. G, the nurse, also had been on duty that night, and she was there as well.  Perfect!  It was like having a ready-made cheering section, LOL, as they got to see the end of the story!

I was only dilated 4-5 cm, and he was still at -3.  Sigh!  Still, at least it was obvious that I was in real labor and didn't have to go home.  After a bit of monitoring, they let me get up to walk laps around the nurses' station, which helped bring the contractions' intensity level up enough to make me feel like they were actually doing something.

To this point, the worst part was getting my left hand stuck with the IV needle shortly after we arrived.  I didn't really want an IV so soon (I didn't really want one at all), but I didn't have much choice--with the hospital being so small, and with me having had "so many" kids already, they didn't want to take chances with the risk of me bleeding and not being able to stop after delivery (which, remember, was supposed to happen in the blink of an eye according to everyone's predictions!).  The tech who did the IV did not have success with it in my hand--poor Charis nearly fainted when she watched the whole ordeal (my hand is still a bit bruised).  They moved it farther up my left arm where it was tolerable.  

After some walking they wanted to check me again.  This time I was at 6 cm, but his head was still high.  I was getting pretty exhausted--going on 12 hours of contractions.  And while I had hopes for a drug-free delivery, I was honestly getting rather afraid of how much of an ordeal it was going to be to endure not only seemingly endless contractions, but also pushing a large baby out--I didn't know how big he was going to be, but in my head I had the words "9-pounder" stuck and playing like a broken record, just based on the assessments doctors had given during the pre-term labor ordeal.  ("Grande bimbo," the Italian doctor informed me, or something like that!)  Remembering how difficult I had found it to push 8 pound, 3 ounce Zaden out, I finally opted to get an epidural.

In some ways I felt like a failure.  I have so many friends who pop babies (even 9-10 pounders!) out with no pain meds.  And I felt proud (justifiably so, I think!) of my two drug-free deliveries.  I liked feeling like I could get up and move around more quickly than with the others.  Then again...the more I thought about it...Kenna and Zaden were my natural delivery babies, and they were also the ones who gave me the most issues with nursing!  Ha!  They were also born while Ted was, interesting case studies, perhaps!

But then, in the delivery room while I was later relaxing and listening to Ted snore while Charis snoozed in a chair, I spent some time praying, and I clearly felt God's Spirit whispering words of freedom to my heart.  In the scheme of things, I felt Him saying, He really didn't mind one way or the other what I chose for this delivery experience.  So I let myself quit stewing about it and instead thanked the Lord for the fact that I continued to have contractions and never really felt them!  

Every 30 minutes or so the nurses would come in and tilt me to one side or the other.  At 3:30am when they did this, my water broke!  WOOHOO!!

Sure enough, it was show time!  Ted and Charis woke up and things started happening.  Not as quickly as they might have if I hadn't been numb though, LOL!  It took awhile before I figured out how to push effectively, and I'm quite sure Seanin would have been born before 4:38am if I hadn't had any pain medicine!  Still, I must say it was WONDERFUL to push out a 9-pound boy and not feel any pain at all!

There were no problems, so I was able to hold him on my chest right away.  I so enjoyed being able to do that while the nurses wiped him down and doc did whatever he needed to do...again, hooray for not feeling any pain and being able to enjoy those precious first moments with our new son!  Charis cut the cord, though she offered to let Daddy do it since Ted was gone for Zaden's birth.  Ted later cut the cord closer, so they both got to cut it.

Our first nursing session was quite a success.  Ted headed home to relieve Carla of kid duty, shower, have breakfast, and get the kids ready to come to the hospital to meet their new baby brother!  Charis stayed with me and was quite a help.  (Read: She held Seanin pretty much constantly while the nurses poked and prodded and helped me up to the bathroom after I got feeling back in my legs.)

The kids arrived in a whirlwind of excitement!  It was so much fun to see their reaction and to announce the name, Seanin Gabriel, which was hailed after months of anticipation and guesswork!  Tobin and I were a bit disappointed that Seanin hadn't arrived before midnight, giving him an August 13 birthday--Tobin's birthday is April 13, and we were hoping he would have a birthday buddy!  However, we agreed that if Seanin had been born in the USA, he WOULD have been an August 13 baby, since he was born so early in the morning here in Italy!  As I mentioned above, there is also the common factor of the reading of a Tolkien work, LOL, plus the fact that both Tobin and Seanin have middle names of biblical angels: Michael and Gabriel, respectively.  Ah, well.  August 14 is a great birth date, too!

The kids all had a chance to hold Seanin, and then Ted whisked everyone away so I could rest.  Seanin and I stayed in the hospital for two full days; I had tested positive for Group B Strep, so they always want to monitor babies 48 hours in that case.  There were no problems at all, and I must say I was thankful for the extra time in the hospital, as much as I hated trying to rest in that helped with having peace and quiet for feeding times (which was a blessing, as I quickly realized that Seanin's shallow latch was going to take some working on--I got a blister almost right away, sigh, and we're still working to overcome that, although I am praising God that Seanin is starting to open wider and do better).

However, it was WONDERFUL to come HOME!!!  Ted has 2 weeks of leave...10 days of paternity leave and some use-or-lose leave days, so we are taking it easy, working on establishing good nursing habits/patterns, and generally getting used to life with a newborn again.  I have to confess that one thought I've had over and over is, "I'm SO glad Ted is HERE this time!"  He missed all this precious time with Zaden.  I can hardly believe that Zaden was 9 months old by the time Daddy was home for good...they had 2 weeks together during Ted's R&R leave.  Thank you, Lord, that those days are behind us!


Linda said...

Congratulations on your precious, beautiful new son. It sounds like all went well!

Penni Litwiller said...

Congrats! You know, I feel your anxiety on the type of delivery. When I found out I had to have a c-section with Matt, I felt so deflated. I asked my mom if I was missing anything not having a normal delivery and experiencing "the wonders of childbirth" I kept hearing about. She said, "Honey, it hurts like the dickens! You're not missing a thing!" And she was right :) Hope you all get into a good routine soon!!