Sunday, September 25, 2011

Norah's Birth Story

As Norah approaches the two-month mark, I am reminded of how true it is that every pregnancy, birth, and baby is different. That is especially true for Harper and Norah. Just see what life was like when he turned two-months old... boy were things different then. Not better, not worse... just different.

Getting back to the topic at hand: I was more uncomfortable while pregnant with Harper. He was a c-section, Norah was a VBAC (yay for me!). Harper was 3 weeks early, Norah came right on her due date. He was a huge baby, she was a tiny baby. Harper was all smiles and shenanigans, while Norah is all about peace and quiet.

Well, I suppose I'm finally ready to share a somewhat condensed version of Norah's birth story. I wasn't sure that I was going to blog about it, but what can I say... I'm in a sharing mood, and I miss her so much. Click the link to "Read more" below if you're interested. If not, I won't blame you for not caring to read it.

When all was said and done, I'd take the VBAC over the c-section any day. It was a trade off of crazy pain all at once instead of awful pain for weeks. And for those of you that have been told "once a c-section, always a c-section", know that it isn't entirely true!

At about 2:30am on the morning of Tuesday 7/26, I woke thinking that I had to pee. This sensation seemed a little different though. The moment I stood, I felt a gush. Jeff says that I booked it to the bathroom with speed that he had never seen from me before. I wish I had taken a picture of his face when I told him that my water had broken.

We went back to bed, but of course I was too anxious to sleep. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible since my contractions were somewhat weak, irregular, and inconsistent. So I did something naughty. When I finally called my midwife, I told her that my water broke at 10:30am. I wanted to buy some extra time to allow me to progress without intervention. Chances of a successful VBAC go up when induction methods are avoided or not used at all.

Jeff and I roamed the outdoor mall in SLC before going to the hospital at about 3pm, when my midwife told us to go in. Let me tell you- walking did nothing to progress my contractions. They finally pushed me into getting the pitocin at 10:30pm, stating that hospital policy was to induce within 12 hours after the water breakage. Well the devil juice sure got things going. The baby and I were kept on wireless waterproof monitors, so I was able to labor without pain medication in the tub, on the birth ball, and in whatever position was comfortable. I felt like a champ.

By 5am things were getting really difficult. I had gone over 24 hours without sleep, and was having a difficult time using my Hypnobirthing techniques. They had really been working, and I was so proud of myself. However, I then found that I wasn't able to properly focus due to exhaustion, so all of my tools were rendered useless. I knew I needed sleep, and the contractions were much too intense. I talked it over with Jeff, and made the tough decision to ask for pain medication. I went for the epidural, though they had the same problem getting it in as when I had the spinal block with the c-section when Harper was born. I still believe that without that pitocin, I would have been able to do the entire thing drug-free, but that just wasn't the path on which we were travelling.

The only part of the experience that I didn't like was being connected to a million different things: the IV, the pulse-ox, the fetal monitor, the contraction monitor, the blood pressure cuff, catheter, and the epidural in my back. I was suddenly immobile. Later they connected a few other things to Norah and I (including oxygen at one point), and it added to the relative misery. Jeff sympathized, noting that the immobility and connections were the worst part of his surgeries, too. I can only imagine what it's like for our sweet Norah with all of her connections and attachments.

I got a little bit of sleep, but within a few hours, things got crazy. The anesthesiologist confirmed that the epidural wasn't effective anymore so left to get more medicine. I figured, "Oh well, at least it let me get some much needed sleep." I felt everything as the pitocin contractions began to overwhelm me. There was literally no time between contractions. I was declared "complete" when they called for medicine to stop the pitocin. The contractions were overwhelming both me and the baby. I received the shot at 9:21am. Norah was born at 9:24am. That's how quickly things happened.

Because of our high risk status, the room was instantly full of at least four OBs (at least one or two being perinatologists), three or four nurses, and three or four pediatricians. Seriously, there had to be 10-15 people in the room. Just at the perfect moment, my midwife walked in. With her and Jeff's support, I pushed through two contractions before being given a friendly threat of forceps by an OB. Norah's heart rate was dropping. That was all it took for me to push her out with such ferocity that her cord broke and I even tore my cervix (to which they said both were rare occurrences). Things were so chaotic, the doctors didn't even announce "it's a girl". A few long moments went by without knowing if we had given birth to a girl or boy. Of course once they announced she was a girl, Jeff and I both cried and agreed that our instincts on her gender were right. She was 5 pounds, 6 ounces and 14 1/2 inches long.

Thank goodness for the phenomenal team at the U of U Hospital. I loved every one of them. The rest was a bit of a blur. I do remember the absence of her cry. I remember a frenzy of activity as the pediatricians worked on her. I looked to the opposite corner of the room, where at least five people were huddled around her. All I saw was a tiny blue body not moving much and only heard tiny whimper-like sounds. And before I knew it, she was taken from the room. Jeff was torn between being with his wife and his baby, but I asked that he go with Norah. He left for only a short while before coming back to the L&D room to be with me. My midwife tried to reassure me, but I had a tough time staying emotionally strong. Stitching me up took quite a bit of time (well over an hour), and it wouldn't be until hours later that I got to see her in the NICU, tangled in wires, tubes, and adhesives. Jeff and I still get emotional when we look at the pictures from when she was first born. She honestly looked so tiny and helpless, as if she was barely hanging on. And worst of all, she appears to be afraid in the pictures. I won't be posting them here.

But the reality is that Norah is the strongest person I've ever met. Perhaps it's because of her namesakes: my mom (her maiden name and my middle name is Ayala) and Jeff's mom Carol (we chose Caroline for her second middle name). Or perhaps it's because she's her dad's daughter. Whatever the reason, she's a fighter, and she's not giving up. Neither are we. Norah spent two weeks at the U of U hospital (with her mommy by her side), and most of you know the rest of her history with the back and forth between home, Primary Children's, and now also South Davis. She's on her fourth stay at the PICU at Primary Children's. It's been tough, but we're doing everything we need to in order to get our baby girl well enough to come home. Though she won't remember any of this when she grows up, I have complete confidence that she'll maintain that same strength as she lives the long life ahead of her. We just have to make it through all of this... because really, there is no other option.

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