I know I'm a terrible blogger, I'm not even going to pretend otherwise. With that said, I have been wanting to document Silas' birth story and am just now sitting down to do just that. Bear with me on this, because it is quite the doozy!
I should preface this by letting you know what I had hoped for. Hoped being the key word. As we all know, and I was strongly reminded, we can try to map out our lives, but the Good Lord can pretty much throw those plans in the garbage whenever He well pleases. And he well pleased. :)
Tyler and I were hoping to have a natural birth. I had done a ridiculous amount of research and preparation. Attended natural birth classes. We even hired a doula. (A doula, for those of you who don't know, is basically a birth coach. She is not a medical professional. She is strictly there to help me achieve the birth I want.) Macy, our doula, was absolutely fantastic. She knew our hope for a natural birth and really worked with us to prepare. I felt I had a really good understanding of what to expect! Well that all went down the crapper.
The weeks leading up to Silas' birth, I was trying EVERYTHING to induce labor. I took maternity leave at 39 weeks, so my full time job at that point was to go in to labor. You name it, I tried it. Every. Single. Day. I was walking 3-4 miles a day, spent hours on the birthing ball, ate pinneapple/dates/red raspberry leaf tea/etc. I really could go on and on about everything I was doing. But nothing was working. I stayed at 1 cm and 50% effaced from weeks 36-41. It was SUPER frustrating.
By wanting to go natural, I knew that I wanted to avoid pitocin at all costs. If I could just go in to labor naturally, I knew I could handle it. Add in pitocin and all bets are off. I know people have had successful natural births with pitocin, but I also knew that it created much stronger contractions than naturally occur. Something I wasn't excited to experience sans pain medication.
At my 41 week doctor appointment (Monday, June 2), they did several tests, including a non-stress test and ultrasound to measure amniotic fluid levels. The NST came back fine. The ultrasound was not as positive. They want fluid levels to measure at least 8. Mine were showing at almost 5. Going past your due date isn't a bad thing, but low fluid levels can indicate a risk for stillbirth. Mine weren't dangerously low, but low nonetheless. And my doctor really wanted to go ahead and get him out. Even though I had dreamt of going into labor on my own, that was pretty much out the window. He wanted me to go straight to the hospital to be induced that night. Ummm....... ok? *Cue major freak out*
Still wanting to avoid pitocin, we opted for a foley bulb. It's basically a balloon inserted to dilate you slowly and hope that it onsets labor naturally. So that afternoon, the doctor came and placed the bulb. We had the entire night to get some sleep and pray this worked. Tyler was able to get a little sleep, but I struggled. I may have slept 3 hours. Maybe. I got up at 3 am and walked the halls for an hour or so, just hoping to encourage labor. The next morning, the bulb was removed. I was 4 cm dilated. GREAT. But was not having contractions. BOO. Macy, our doula, arrived at 9 am (Tuesday, June 3) and we got straight to work. We tried MANY different methods to encourage contractions. NOTHING was working. Finally, at 12 pm, we decided to start pitocin. At this point I was pretty frustrated. We had spent a full 24 hours at the hospital trying to get my body to do what it was designed to do -- and my body was not agreeing.
Something I learned when beginning my pitocin -- they can only give up to 20 units/hour. It usually takes between 8-12 units/hour to put someone in active labor. I began at 1 unit/hour. Every 30 minutes, they would increase the dosage until we got results. I was not getting results! At 5 pm, I was at 13 units/hour and was FINALLY having good contractions. I felt like I things were finally moving along! I was dilated to 5 cm. WoooHoooo for progress!
My doctor came at 5 pm and wanted to break my water. Macy agreed that things were still not moving along and that this would help. So he did. He broke my water and we learned that there was meconium in the fluid. Silas had passed a BM and was at risk for ingesting the meconium in his lungs. So the NICU nurses would have to take him as soon as he was born to assess his breathing. (I had wanted him immediately placed on my chest and delayed cord clamping, so those two things were immediately not an option any more. Another frustration.)
After my doctor broke my water, contractions IMMEDIATELY took a turn. Contractions went from uncomfortable and having to breath through them (but manageable) to HOLY CRAP I CAN'T BREATHE, I'M DYING, DEAR LORD PLEASE MAKE IT STOP. These were so incredibly painful and I wasn't getting a break. They were never coming down. It was like a constant major contraction. *Darn, you pitocin!*
I tried to hold out for 2 hours. But at 7 pm, I was still at 5 cm and knew I couldn't do this for the long haul. So an epidural it was! The anesthesiologist kept wanting to talk to me about epi, and it took every ounce of me not to curse and tell him to jam it in my back already! He finally gave me the epi and it was instant relief.
My blood pressure was a little low, so they gave me medicine to raise my bp. At 8 pm, we thought we were on cruise control. We expected to rest until I fully dilated and knew that could be a few hours. Tyler left the room to tell our parents to go home and rest and we would call them when things got serious. Macy left to grab dinner. I was just about the fall asleep. And that's when things got crazy...
Silas' heart rate plummeted. It was normally around 150, but dropped to about 50 bpm. Within seconds I had 4 nurses in my room. Having just had the epi, I couldn't move. So they flipped me on all fours to try find the heartbeat. They gave me an oxygen mask. Couldn't find the heartbeat.
So here I am. By myself. Positive that I am about to be wheeled into the operating room for an emergency c-section. After what felt like forever, but was probably only about 30 seconds, they found his heartbeat and it rebounded back up to 150 bpm. Just then, Tyler and Macy returned. I can only imagine was Tyler was thinking when he walked back in to see a room full of nurses and doctors.
The doctor, nurses and anesthesiologist all kept coming in our room to monitor and discuss the situation. I was taken off pitocin in hopes to keep things under control. We thought things had calmed down but then the same thing happened AGAIN at about midnight (Wednesday, June 4). Luckily, this time I was paying close attention to his heart rate and noticed the dip instantly. I was already on all fours with oxygen when all the nurses came in. (Oh ya, did I mention my epi kept "fading"? Basically, it would be fully effective for ab an hour and then fade until it was nonexistant. So at midnight, I was able to move myself into position easily.)
They were able to find his heart beat and it came back up to a normal range. But at this point I knew the doctor would want a c-section. And honestly, I almost wanted one too. Just to get him out and safe. Just to get this all over with. Tyler and I both were ready for surgery -- we just needed the word from our doctor.
The doctor on call (which our nurse later told us was the "midwife of doctors," came in to our room. I asked him point-blank if we needed to have a c-section. All he had to say was yes and Tyler and I would have been fully on board. After all, my #1 priority was a healthy baby. The doctor completely surprised me and said "I haven't given up on you yet." I think had Silas' heartbeat not rebounded both times, we would have had a c-section, no question. But because he was recovering, the doctor felt it was fine to continue. And the good news was that I had dilated to 8cm!
From 12 - 3am, Silas' heartbeat stabilized. Tyler and Macy were able to get some sleep. There was simply no chance I was able to sleep. I had been profusely shaking since my water broke at 5 pm, and after the two big scares, I basically laid in bed listening to his heartbeat. I was seriously on edge.
At about 2:45 am, I realized I was going to need to push. I had just received another dose of epidural so I was pretty numb. But I could tell things had changed so we called for the nurse. The nurse came and sure enough I was 10 cm! FINALLY!!
The doctor was in surgery so we knew it would be about 30 minutes for him to show up. The nurse wanted to start pushing while we waited for the doctor. Right when I was about to start pushing my blood pressure dropped considerably. Like 70/40. I thought I was either going to pass out or throw up. It was the strangest feeling I've ever had. And this is the time the nurse wants me to push?? Ya freaking right.
But I pushed for 2 hours and at 4:54 am, Silas Lee Herriman arrived! The NICU nurses checked him over and I had him in my arms in less than 5 minutes. He was healthy! Because I pushed for so long, the epidural had worn off so I was able to feel the last hour of labor. I am actually thankful for this because I had wanted to experience natural labor, but was still able to get some relief and rest the few hours before.
Tyler completely shocked and amazed me during labor. He was by my side the entire time. We had wanted a doula for several reasons, but one of the biggest reasons was because of Tyler's strong dislike for anything medical. *He may or may not have passed out on occasion over the course of our relationship* So we thought if he were to get light-headed, at least I would have someone else there to stay with me. :) But he never once left my side. Between pushes he was there with ice, encouraging me all the way. He even cut the cord, which totally shocked me! I am 100% sincere when I say I could not have done it without him.
After delivery, we were able to spend some good quality time as a family of three before our parents came in to meet their grandson.
Needless to say, after 48 hours with only about 3 hours of sleep, I was beyond exhaustsed. We were thankful to get a few hours that day of rest.
Like many new moms, I originally expected to keep Silas in our room at all times. But lack of sleep can do crazy thigs to you -- to the nursery he went! I'm thankful for that time it gave me to regain my sanity.
More posts to come about the first two months. I mean, seriously, he's coming up in month 3 so I better do it soon! 😉
And now, some pics... Please no judgement. I was a hot mess. A hot mess that was too physically and emotionally exhausted to wash her hair for like.... 4 days. lol