Thursday, September 11, 2014

Meeting Matthew: A Birth Story

So I blogged about finally being pregnant and then dropped off the face of the Earth - sorry about that. I have drafts of posts saved that I need to go back and wrap up, but I've decided to go ahead and share how our little guy got here before the details get too fuzzy.

From the beginning, I told my doctor (Dr. Lemen) that I wanted my baby to be born as close to my due date (April 14) as possible. Daniel and Dr. Lemen both liked to remind me that I was probably going to as least make it to my due date since this was my first baby, but I was determined to NOT be one of those swollen, waddling, 42-week pregnant ladies! As the weeks went on and Daniel and I started making more concrete plans for baby's arrival, I came up with the perfect scenario - after work on Friday, April 11 (my last day before maternity leave), I'd walk across the hospital to Labor and Delivery to be induced, give birth on Saturday or Sunday, and be home by Tuesday, just in time for Jordan to come out on Wednesday. Daniel would miss minimal time away from his rotation and I'd be in control of the whole thing. However, at my 38-week appointment, Dr. Lemen said he wouldn't induce me before my due date unless there was a really good reason, and scheduling convenience didn't count. I was a little bummed, but accepted the fact that I was going to have to wait it out.

38 weeks pregnant

39 weeks pregnant

At my 39-week appointment (a Tuesday), I had progressed a bit, so Dr. Lemen offered to strip my membranes to see if it would help kick start labor. After he was done, he turned to the nurse and said, "I need the little gray [ultrasound] machine, that was too soft to be a head." Daniel and I both perked up because we thought the baby was head down the whole time and 39 weeks with stripped membranes was not the ideal time to find out he was breech. The ultrasound confirmed that our little guy was bum down instead of head down and after saying a few naughty words (and probably thinking several more), Dr. Lemen walked us through our options. We decided to go with an external cephalic version and everything quickly started falling into place - check in at 8am on Wednesday with the version at 10am and then a normal labor if it worked and a c-section if it didn't. A simple solution to a seemingly giant problem!

Luckily my appointment was at 8am so I was able to give enough notice at work and re-work my plans to get a "pushing pedicure." I left work at 6:30pm with a list of things for my co-workers to finish up for me (sorry Dana!) and met up with Cassi and Sarah for a bit of last-minute relaxation.

 Pretty feet! Mine's the swollen one with the blue-ish purple polish

Cassi treated us to Godiva milkshakes afterwards and while waiting for mine to be made I realized I had started contracting. They were like PMS cramps, annoying but not overwhelming. When I got home I dropped off a few things and went back out for a quick bite to eat with Janey. Daniel spent part of the evening playing Last Night on Earth and then we spent the rest of the night packing and re-packing our bags and trying to sleep. I finally woke up around 5am and tried to get comfortable on the couch for an hour before deciding to use up all the hot water for a long shower. We left for the hospital around 7:30am and got all checked in and set up.

My last belly picture

These lines got caught on everything!

I totally lucked out with my team of doctors and nurses! I started with a great nurse named Dana, she took such good care of me! She made sure to explain what she was doing and what was being measured and it made me feel so much better. Since versions aren't gentle procedures and I was going to have a c-section if it didn't work, Dr. Lemen decided to go ahead and order a c-section-strength dose of epidural. The anesthesia docs (Dr. Kula and Dr. Overturf) were wonderful and they let Daniel stay in the room while I was getting all drugged up (although Dr. Kula made him sit down, much to his chagrin). Dr. Overturf said I made his job easy because I was able to stay so still during it all, I guess being barely dilated helped. Dr. Lemen came in to check on everything and said it was time to go to the OR for the version. That was news to everyone, so Dr. Kula asked why and Dr. Lemen explained that since there was such a low chance of the version working, it made sense to go ahead and be in the operating room so he could do the c-section right away. Dr. Kula asked what the point of the version was if Dr. Lemen was just going to do a c-section anyway, so it was decided to do the version in the room and then go to the OR if necessary. After a few "ice tests" (Dr. Overturf put a piece of ice on a few places on my leg and side to make sure the epidural was working), Dr. Lemen and Dr. Greenblatt (one of the chief residents) started the version. It was so weird to see them pushing and pulling on my stomach but not feel anything! Dr. Lemen would check every now and then via ultrasound to see where the baby was and they were able to successfully flip him!

Since I didn't need the c-section, I was moved to an actual labor room and given a dose of Pitocin to really get things going. Dr. Overturf toned down my epidural and then it was just Daniel and me for awhile. I was so glad to have a break from everyone and everything! I came down from the c-section epidural hard and it was pretty rough at times. I spent most of the afternoon trying to sleep and Daniel did some schoolwork. Dana would occasionally come in to check my monitors and give me more ice chips, but other than that it was quiet. I started to get a little restless so we turned on October Sky to pass the time. Dr. Lemen came in to check me and I was dilated to a 6! I was pretty pleased with that progress, so I perked up and spent the next little bit chatting with my mom and eating lots of ice in preparation for pushing (I thought it would help, okay?!).

Frozen water, yum!

Dr. Lemen came in a couple hours later and I was still at 6. And then I was still at 6 a couple hours after that. I was getting grumpy and Dr. Lemen, Dr. Overturf, and Dana all had to go home, which bummed me out. Also, the monitors picked up baby's heart rate better when I was on my right side, so I was stiff and achy from not moving. The only bright side was my epidural, it made my contractions totally manageable!

My nighttime caretakers were good, especially Sue, my nurse. Dr. Bomtempo was my OB and Dr. Schloesser was the resident. When Dr. Bomtempo checked me around 12:30am, I wasn't expecting much, but I was dilated to a 9! By 1:15am it was time to push! I had to have an oxygen mask because little man's levels kept changing and I was told to use it between pushes. So, I pushed...

For 3.5 hours.

No joke.

Baby was stuck behind my pubic bone and couldn't finish his way down the birth canal. Everyone was getting tired and I started to lose it. No motivation or encouragement from anyone helped, so Dr. Bomtempo finally suggested a c-section. I remember thinking Finally! and Dr. Schloesser went over all the risks and potential outcomes (it's a pretty scary spiel, I'm glad I was kind of out of it otherwise I would've freaked out) while Daniel put on the bunny suit so he could be in the OR with me.

It wasn't an emergency c-section, but it was still pretty rushed, so getting to the OR is kind of a blur. I do remember being strapped down to the table and tilted to what felt like 45* and asking Sue if I could throw up before getting started. Dr. Overturf was back and was so great at making sure I was doing okay. The epidural (and probably lack of sleep and food) gave me a horrible case of the shakes, so I tried to control them and ended up clenching my jaw for the first little while. My back teeth hurt so bad that it was all I could think about, so I asked Dr. Overturf for some gauze. He didn't question it, just gave me a few swabs and watched me awkwardly stuff them in my mouth. The c-section itself was pretty quick - Matthew Jeffrey was born at 5:34am, weighed 7lbs 12 oz, and was 20.7" long. Because he had been in the birth canal for so long and unable to get the fluid out of his lungs, there were some issues with his breathing and I didn't get a chance to see him or touch him or anything before he was whisked away to the NICU. Daniel was able to take a few pictures and see him briefly, but I made him stay with me in the OR until the procedure was done. While cutting me open, the doctor knicked my ureter and that had to be stitched back up, prolonging my surgery. Luckily there was no permanent damage and I was able to get a little bit of rest while waiting for the blue dye they injected in me to travel through my system to make sure everything was repaired (though I did freak out the nurses with a catheter bag full of green urine).

After being taken to a recovery room, I was FINALLY given a big cup of ice water and it was probably the most refreshing/satisfying/amazing thing I will ever drink. I had to wait for about an hour before being transferred to the Mother and Baby floor, Daniel came back from the NICU just long enough to help take our bags up and give me an update - Matthew had to be briefly intubated, but there weren't any lingering problems and he was breathing on his own just fine. The doctors were hopeful he would be sent to my room within the hour. I was so excited to finally get my baby that I didn't want to sleep so I could see him and hold him as soon as possible. While I waited, Dr. Lemen came to check on me. As soon as he walked in I said, "You're in trouble!" He told me that he should've called for the c-section when I stopped progressing and was really sorry for all the drama. He also explained that all of my babies will probably be born via c-section because of the narrowness of the birth canal (which, honestly, is totally fine by me). After he left, I just stared at the door and waited for someone to come in and say Matthew was on his way up.

Fast forward six hours. Yes, SIX HOURS! Due to some hospital red tape, Matthew got stuck in the NICU and wasn't able to come upstairs even though he was doing well. Daniel wheeled him in around 3:30pm and I was finally able to hold my sweet baby boy!

Because he had been downstairs for so long, the nurses had given him a couple bottles of formula. I was able to express milk, but Matthew had trouble latching, so at each feeding we would end up using a bottle. It was frustrating for both of us! We found out the next day that Matthew was tongue-tied on the top and bottom, which explained why he wasn't able to get a good latch. The procedure to correct it, a frenulectomy, is super simple and happens all the time, but I was devastated that my baby was being taken away from me again! In the end, Matthew was gone for about 5 minutes, the resident who assisted is a family friend, and Daniel was able to go and observe. I still had a hard time letting Matthew out of my sight after that though!

Love this picture so much!

While I LOVED my Labor and Delivery team, I was underwhelmed by the Mother and Baby staff. They would check on us very sporadically, often interrupting a nap or pumping session. The nurses just seemed to go through the motions. We felt rushed the day we left, and no one offered to help us. I had Matthew and Daniel had our stuff, we left through the side exit and that was it. Luckily it was a Sunday and the hospital was empty, otherwise I would've insisted on being wheeled out!

Because of all the trauma my body went through, I was on some pretty heavy drugs. Matthew's first few days were spent mostly sleeping because the meds in my milk knocked him out. I made a point to wean myself off the more intense stuff and was just on extra strength ibuprofen by the time we left the hospital. I wasn't taking anything within a week!

Unfortunately, Matthew never properly latched, so he's a formula baby and doing just fine, thank  you very much. I was upset about not breastfeeding for about a day - I remember sobbing on the couch and asking Daniel if he thought I was a bad mother for not breastfeeding. He told me to do what was best for me, so I chose bottles. If I wasn't so frazzled with everything, I might've looked into exclusive pumping. If my other babies have issues with breastfeeding, I'll probably pump for them. Formula is so expensive! And breast milk really is what's best for little ones. Though one of the biggest perks of bottles is that Daniel can help with feeding, which is especially nice at 2am!

Daniel and I decided on Matthew mostly because it was one of the few names we agreed on! It also means Gift of God in Hebrew, which I felt was appropriate after waiting for so long. Jeffrey is my dad's name and Daniel's dad's name and we liked the idea of a middle name that brought together both sides of his family.

So, there you have it. Matthew is thriving and Daniel and I are getting a little more adjusted to parenthood each day. More to come soon.

I mean it!



  1. He really is such a cute baby. So glad he made it here safe and sound!

  2. (Still can't believe that you had to wait 6 hours before seeing him!) That must have felt like an eternity. Btw, how are you smiling and looking gorgeous in the midst of labor? That's pretty incredible!

  3. I loooove birth stories, read the whole thing! You are a trooper girl, that was a lot to deal with! I laughed when you said you didn't want to be that waddling two weeks late girl, I WAS THAT girl and it was a whole lot of waddling let me tell ya!! haha! I must know right now what a Godiva milkshake is, we don't have those here, goodness gracious it sounds amazing. Also, can't believe you didn't go crazy waiting 6 hours, I would've been a nutcase if they did that to me!! You are one tough cookie! What day was he born, i couldn't find that in the post?! CONGRATULATIONS, so happy we have our sweet miracles!!