Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Arden's Birth Story (Part 2 of 2)

(See Part 1 of 2 to get the pre-story...)

...When he placed the bulb, I thought he broke my water because I felt some gushing of fluid. It wasn’t amniotic fluid…it was blood. Your heart rate stayed beautiful and I didn’t start hurting so we thought it was probably just a uterine vessel that was broken rather than any placental abruption. They did want to monitor your and I for the next couple of hours to make sure bleeding stopped before even remotely talking about going home to sleep. After just a little bit of thinking, praying, and consulting your dad, Lamar, and my nurse friends, I decided that I’d rest much better at the hospital on the monitor than at home, wondering if you were okay. Dad ran home (but it took him 2 hours) to finish packing our stuff and Sarah came up to triage to keep my company while we waited. (I had sent a list home with Dad that included vacuuming the car, installing the car seat, finishing packing my bag, getting the herbs and essential oils for labor, and finding and inflating the birth ball. He finally located the birth ball, deflated in the garage in a wagon. Apparently, there was a hole in it, and we didn’t have the proper patching goods, so he tried caulking the ball to keep air in it. I’m sure you can guess that it didn’t work. But kudos to him for trying.)

A little after 9p, the bleeding had slowed but not completely stopped. I began retaping the foley bulb more taut to my leg and it slid right on out. I was surprised and called the nurse, Kathy. She rechecked me and sure enough, I was dilated to 4 cm! (She called me 3-4cm so that really means I was at least 4cm.) We all decided to go ahead and move back to Labor & Delivery and start pitocin. I kind of couldn’t believe it was starting to happen this fast.

I had been texting our doula Wendy to keep her updated. The plan was for her to come to L&D sometime in the morning when I started hurting. Since I seemed to be moving so quickly, she decided to drive up to the hospital after they started pitocin. 

We moved to our new room around 10:15-10:30p I think. Sometimes, you lose track of time. I wasn’t hurting. Sarah and I were talking and watching the 2015 Golden Globes. Your Dad was still at home trying to finish his honey-do list. The pitocin was started around 10:45-11:00p. Dr. Lamar didn’t break my water at that time because your head was still so high and my cervix was still very posterior. We didn’t want a prolapsed cord to happen. 

It was then that I found out that my next door neighbor had delivered a baby, too. Except theirs didn’t live. My secondary job as an L&D nurse it to coordinate the Resolve Through Sharing program. I help train staff on how to care for a patient who is experiencing a loss and follow up with at least half of the patients (other nurses follow up with some patients) who lose a baby for about a year after delivery. This baby was the 7th loss since the day before Christmas Eve that we had experienced at United Regional. Heartbreaking. And grounding. NEVER do I take for granted that you are healthy and there are a lot of odds stacked against you and I with my diabetes and now a newfound heart condition. Part of me hadn’t even let myself believe that I would be going home with a healthy newborn at the end of it all. 

Dad arrived back to L&D eventually, Sarah hugged us and went home in expectation that I would announce your arrival overnight, and Wendy arrived sometime around midnight. We all decided we needed to try and sleep as much as possible because it could be a long night. Dad curled up on the couch and fell asleep about midnight. Wendy went down to Antepartum Rm 4405 and slept on the couch, and I kind of slept with a giant peanut ball in between my legs to help open up the pelvis and allow for your head to descend. Stacy was my nurse (who helped deliver Blair) and Heidi was in and out of the room a lot helping while Stacy was still recovering another patient. 

I slept off and on from about 1-4a, only noticing mild contractions. Stacy checked me around 2a and I was dilated about 4-5cm, still very posterior, and 70% effaced. Not a lot of change.

About 4a, my contractions started picking up and becoming stronger as the pitocin continued to be increased. (I think we topped out at about 16mu/min.) I was contracting every 2-5 minutes and beginning to breathe and moan through them some. I finally decided that it was time to bring in the big guns and called Wendy to come down to see if she could help me relax. I just was having a hard time getting comfortable. 

About 5a, Wendy came to the room. I was still about to talk and laugh in-between contractions. No significant pain noted. I asked Stacy to check me about 5:20a because we were all curious to see if there was any cervical change. I was dilated to about 6 cm, 70% effaced, and the head had come down substantially. And wouldn’t you know…my water happened to break while she was checking me…

For the next 15-20 minutes, I sat up in bed, moaning through the contractions. They were definitely manageable. But they started to pick up in intensity and frequency pretty quickly. They dialed back the pitocin to about 12 mu/min but I think my contractions were still about every 2 minutes apart. Things started going very fast. I sat on the birth ball on the side of the bed, moaning through each contraction. Wendy offered verbal encouragement through each contraction and would lightly touch my forearms. And where was Jesus in the room this time? He was very much in her voice, in her touch, and in Dad’s constant presence. Never did He leave me, never did He forsake me. 

At one point, Dad tried to be “nice” and touch my back, but good gosh, he put his entire body weight on me. I knew he was attempting to be empathetic so I tried to gently say something,  but I think it came out in one long breath…”Please stop touching me, you’re putting too much pressure on my back, get off…” or something like that. After that, the sweet man just offered the occasional touch and word of encouragement. But he was always right by my side. I think I stood up and put my arms around his neck through one or two contractions but it wasn’t comfortable at all, so back to leaning over the bed it was. 

Somewhere around 6:30a, Stacy had to leave a little early (of all days!) and sweet Hayli came in to take care of me. At this point, I kept having to go to the bathroom. There’s a lot of pressure down there…I actually remember saying it felt like my crotch had been hit with a fireball…so everything just kind of comes out. No more pregnancy constipation.

At some point on the toilet, I inadvertently let out a push or two. Hayli checked me (bless her heart) and she couldn’t tell if I was an 8 or a 10. I tried making it back to the bed for her to check me. (Side note: no fault of Hayli’s, but walking to a bed to get on your back when you’re about to have a baby is one of the most torturous things to do to a woman.) I was 9cm. Oh my goodness, I was close but it felt like I was near death. I made my way back to the bathroom again. Someone mentioned me getting into the shower because that is how I labored with Blair. Then someone countered that, saying they didn’t want to deliver a baby in the shower. (The who said what and when is all a blur to me.) 

And poor Wendy. Through the contractions, I had developed a pattern of grabbing her shirt sleeves, moaning, and rocking back and forth. At some point, I a. got bodily fluid in her hair and b. began rocking back and forth while hitting my head on her chest. (Her chest was much softer than the shower wall, like I did with Blair.) Best doula, EVER.

I remember getting a little panicky at one point, saying, “I can’t do this anymore!” In an L&D nurses mind, those are the magic words that a legit natural, laboring patient (not the wimpy 2cm patient who has zero tolerance for pain) is close to delivery. Someone called Dr. Lamar and told him to come now for delivery. 

I had made it back to the birth ball a few minutes later when the door flung open and Dr. Lamar arrived, hair disheveled, out of breath after he had apparently sprinted from his car to our room. “Oh, I thought the baby was going to be out,” he said. “Guess I have time to change.” And God bless Dr. Lamar and his family. Two of his three kids, Hannah and Jackie, babysit/nanny/help raise your brother and sister. As much as I go see him in the office and as much as the girls watch your brother and sister, and now you, they’re like part of the family. 

So, Dr. Lamar left to change clothes. I inadvertently started bearing down during a contraction and Hayli asked me what position I wanted to get in to push. I had NO IDEA. All reasoning had been flushed down the toilet at this point. Literally. Wendy suggested I get on my hands and knees on the bed and that sounded like a reasonable thing to do. The head of the bed was still up while I pushed once…and it was miserable. Hayli dropped the bed to a completely flat position, I got “comfortable”…as comfortable as one can be while trying to deliver a fireball out of your vagina… and the thought went through my head…”I NEVER HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN.” It was incentive to finish the job. 

I quietly pushed twice. I’m not sure if anyone but Wendy and I knew I was pushing. For a brief moment, I was embarrassed as I felt a little like a puppy on a training pad. Sometimes, bodily fluids escape while you’re pushing. After two pushes, I could tell you were crowning. A little “ring of fire” burning, but by the time you're on your third vaginal delivery, it was nothing too bad. 

Apparently, Dr. Lamar had come back in the room and I heard Hayli ask him if he was going to check me. He replied, “She’ll let me know.” I pushed once and groaned, “THE HEAD IS OUT.” 

I had two hospital gowns on. One on the front and one covering my backside since I had been up walking around. Lamar got up, lifted the back side of the gown, and said, “Oh yes, it is!” He told me to wait to push to see if you had a cord around your neck. I waited a second, heard that we were all clear, and with one more push, you shot out. 7:17a. It all happened so fast that Lamar only had one glove on. I guess that’s the ultimate level of trust between a doctor and his patient. 

I heard him say, “It’s a girl!” I was kind of surprised but started thinking you would be a girl the week before you were born. Ann Marie, the nursery nurse, took you to the warmer and Dad followed you. I rolled over and immediately felt grossed out by all of the blood I was sitting in while I was hemorrhaging. (Literally. I had to stay in a wheelchair the rest of the day and refused a blood transfusion the next morning.) I watched Ann Marie give you oxygen and a little PEEP to help open your lungs. At some point, I heard you give one good cry that gave me some reassurance. 

Arden Elise, you were beautiful. You had dark hair and were long and lean…7 lbs 10 oz and 21 inches. Your feet and hands were ginormous and you had a dimple in your right cheek. Your lips looked like little strawberries…I just wanted to kiss you! 

Your brother and sister came to meet you. Your grandparents doted on you. Our friends and co-workers came to see you. You were a celebrity.

About an hour and a half after you were born, your oxygen levels started dropping again so you were taking into the nursery where an IV was started, you received oxygen through a nasal cannula, blood cultures were drawn, a chest Xray was done, and IV antibiotics were given. I have a new respect for nursery nurses. They cared for you like you were their own. You were a little puny at first, struggling to keep your oxygen levels up and had 2 wimpy feedings, but like the little fighter you are, you pulled off your oxygen and IV out later that night and came out of it like a champ. 

Arden Elise, you are glorious. Beautiful, gentle, sweet, relaxed, loved. I am so grateful that Jesus gave us a precious gift in you. He knows you, formed you in His image, loves you, and planned for you to be our daughter and us to be your parents. For that, I am forever thankful. I know He has great plans for you. I will relish the moments He gives us with you as your story is written. 

Our prayer for you is this: “She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” - Proverbs 31:25. 

Trusting the One who holds your future. Thank you for being our daughter. 

I love you,



  1. You're so good. So inspiring and strong! That sweet little girl is so lucky to have you as her for real mom everyday! She is so loved and so gorgeous!!!

  2. Ironically, birth is both disgusting and beautiful at the same time...but that's life...and even though it doesn't sound reassuring that it stays that way throughout our lives, we DO have the reassurance that it will be beautiful forever when this life is over...I just love that thought...But God gives us the strength to live for both those wonderful and for those terrible life experiences...

  3. I love Arden's story, beautiful as is she! My Favorite part was your visual description of her, Marvelous! Thanks for sharing & Congrats! ��