Stephens Family

Stephens Family

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Eli's Birth Story

A few days before Eli was born I was reading a blog that I follow whose author -- a marathon runner -- compared birth to running a marathon.  In her post she mentioned that before she gave birth she thought I run marathons -- 26.2 miles!  If I can do that, how much harder could birth be?  She then went on to say that giving birth was immensly harder than running a marathon.  I'm not a marathon runner and still her written words did not sink in.  I had no idea what I was in for.  I had no idea how hard labor and delivery would be and I had no idea how amazing the prize I received at the end would be.  (To read her actual blog post: )

After a couple bouts of bleeding and rushing to hospital my doctor decided it would be best to induce me the morning of September 14th.  (For more info read: ) At first I was a little bummed because I did not want to be induced -- I knew that being induced increased my risk of having a cesarean.  But the disappointment soon wore off as the excitement grew knowing that I would meet my son in 24 hours!  The doctor suggested we stay in the hospital for the night but I asked if we could go home and rest -- she obliged.  So after a nights stay in the hospital, Mike headed to work and I headed home.  My mother came over and I rested while she changed our sheets and did some last minute cleaning.  I was fairly calm most of the day but when Mike got home around 8 pm (he had to work late due to a board meeting) I was a little wound up.  I took some Tylenol pm so I could sleep -- knowing I would need my energy the next day.  I layed my head down and before I knew it was 4:30am, the alarm was ringing and, like I mentioned earlier, we had no idea what wild ride we were in for!  (And, thank the Lord because I would have been in a terrible panic if I would have known).

We had to be to the hospital by 5:30 to get checked in and start the pitocin as soon as possible.  When we got to our room, I changed into a hospital gown and a nurse asked us the same 100 questions they had asked the last two times we were there -- and, guess what?  My answers had not changed in the last 12 hours since we left the hospital.  She then drew some blood and put in my IV and started my dose of pitocin.  I had heard that once they start you on pitocin your contractions go from nothing to intensely painful in a matter of minutes.  I asked the nurse about this and she said that they gradually get stronger and stronger due to the amount they give you -- which increases every 15 minutes.  So, to start, the contractions weren't all that bad. 

Soon after my doctor came in and broke my water -- ouch!  This took longer than I thought it would.  And, to top it off Mike filmed the whole thing -- how embarrassing!  He claimed he didn't know what was going on and that he was just trying to get the camera set up.  You can hear me on the video saying, "Mike, get over here!"  After she broke my water, she placed an internal contraction monitor in my uterus.  This too was an uncomfortable process and stayed that way all day long.  It is just awkward to have cords hanging out of your lady parts for any amount of time. 

At 7:00 it was shift change and we met our nurse, Karen.  She was obviously pregnant and we asked how far along she was -- 37 weeks!!  We really liked her.  She helped me to the restroom, since I knew I would be getting an epidural at some point and would be bed-ridden for most of the day.  This was very awkward with the internal monitor and since my water was broke I leaked a ton standing up -- it was kinda gross. When I got back into bed I began to feel the contractions get stronger but not even close to unbearable.  However, Karen got a call from anaesthesiology saying that I could either get my epidural now or in two hours.  Even though the contractions weren't all that bad yet Mike and I decided not to chance it and to go ahead and get the epidural. 

It was probably another half hour until our anaesthesiologist arrived to preform the epidural.  He was nice  and sort of sarcastic -- which was odd to me considering how scary epidurals can be for first timers.  As he prepped my spine he told me to let him know if there was any ringing in my ears or a funny taste in my mouth.  Little did I know, I was NOT supposed to feel these -- instead, I figured these were normal symptoms of a normal epidural.  So, when I felt both of these I calmly let him know.  Then, I heard an "Uh-Oh" type utterance and I knew I wasn't supposed to feel these symptoms.  He then explained that he must have hit a vain and began to ask me a couple questions.  I looked at Mike and even though I knew the answers I could not speak them.  Finally I said to Mike, "I can't find the words."  I was pretty nervous but kept telling myself to stay calm and that worked well for me.  The doctor had to make a few adjustments and finally the catheter was placed in the right location.  The relief from the epidural was nice but I could still move and feel my legs which I wasn't expecting.  The nurse then placed a urine catheter in and now I had two cords hanging from my lady parts -- lucky me!

While we waited for my cervix to dilate and efface I began to notice that I could feel my contractions and a lot of pressure "down there."  I could push a button in order for some more "numbing goodness" to be released through my catheter.  When I did this I noticed a cool sensation running down my back.  I stopped noticing this and it wasn't because I had reached my limit instead the dead batteries in my machine were the culprits.  :(  A nurse fiddled forever trying to get the new battery in and once she finally did there was still no medicine and no relief.  So Karen called anaesthesiology and the same anaesthesiologist came to inject medicine directly into my IV -- felt the cool sensation but still no relief.  So, they called for a new anaesthesiologist who took out my catheter and re-did it.  Yay for three epidurals in one day!  NOT!  However, this epidural seemed heavenly.  I immediately felt relief and was even able to sleep for a while! 

For the next several hours Mike and I talked, rested and I worked on my 39 week blog post.  Karen would come in every so often and check my cervix.  Each time I had progressed and before I knew it I was dilated to an 8 and 100% effaced.  I called my mom and sister to tell them to head to the hospital  so we could hang out a little before I started to push.  (Mike and I had to decided a long time before that it would only be him and I in the room while I was pushing and for about an hour after the birth of Eli so that we could enjoy those first intimate moments together).  The nurse had me sit up in order to further dilate my cervix and by the time my parents arrived it was almost time to push.  I think they were a little freaked out because I was wearing an oxygen mast and shivering due to the anaesthetics when they first saw me.  My sister arrived just in time to wish me luck and then I ordered everyone to leave because I was 10cm.  I was so excited -- looks like I was going to get the vaginal birth I had hoped for! 

Before we started to push Karen wanted to wait because Eli's head was still at a -2 station (range is -4 - +4) and she didn't want me to start pushing too early and then wind up pushing for hours.  However, my epidural seemed to work amazingly for my uterine contractions but not so much in the perineal area.  I was really starting to feel some pressure "down there."  (And, yes, it does feel like you have to take a humongous poop).  Since I was feeling pressure during contractions Karen decided I should go ahead and start pushing. And pushing, and pushing, and pushing, and pushing, and pushing...

At first pushing wasn't all that bad.  Karen taught me that the proper way to push was grab my thighs -- remember I can feel and move my legs even with my epidural -- and when I felt the contraction peek to bear down and push 3 times for 10 seconds each.  During the first pushes I imagined myself running around a softball field trying to make it to home base before being thrown out -- weird huh?  It was very helpful to have Mike and Karen counting the pushes and cheering me on.  It was especially encouraging when they would tell me they could see the head and even some hair!  I always wondered what it would be like during labor as my husband peered into my expanding vagina (I mean, that is as about as exposed as you will ever be, right?).  Would I be embarrassed?  Would I want him to stay next to me and not look?  Well, during labor all my modesty was thrown out the window.  I felt completely comfortable with Mike watching the process.  He seemed excited to see the head and that made me happy. 

Speaking of throwing modesty out the window, a while into pushing I began to feel very, very nauseous and told my nurse I felt like I was going to throw up.  She said that nausea was very common and usually her patients only feel this way but it doesn't come to fruition.  Not the case for me!  Mike had the puke bag ready to help but he didn't get it under my chin so to say the least it didn't catch much throw up.  I puked for about 30 seconds all over my hospital gown.  The nurses offered me a clean gown but I declined.  I was hot and to be honest felt better naked.  So, for the next 1.5 hours I pushed in my birthday suit -- that is how Eli and I met -- both in our birthday suits and for him it was very fitting considering it was his birth day.  :)

After about an hour of pushing, I began to think -- okay, how much longer???  Karen informed us that his head was stuck at a certain point and that when I would push his head would move but then slip back into place.  She also informed us that we still had a long way to go.  I'm thinking -- are you kidding me?!?!  I was feeling very exhausted and hearing this was a huge blow.  I began to get a little worried, thinking that I may have to have a C-section if this baby's head would not begin to move down.  This did motivate me some and instead of pushing 3 sets we jumped it up to 4 sets of 10 seconds each.  The charge nurse came into relieve Karen (all the while, I'm thinking I wish someone could relieve me).  This nurse had me grab on to handles attached to my gurney instead of my thighs while I pushed.  This helped to get Eli's head unstuck but after that they realised that my thighs were more productive.  At some point the nurses left for a while and Mike took their position at the foot of the bed holding both of my legs and counting for me.  This was nice because I was comfortable with him and he let me put my legs up on his shoulders in between contractions so I could relax them (it is hard to hold them up for 2.5 hours!). 

At one point during pushing Mike began to laugh -- not a good move on his part.  Immediately, I told him that he was not allowed to laugh at all and that this was not a funny situation.  This is the one time that I got grumpy with Mike during labor.  Considering it took 2.5 hours to push our son out of me I'm pretty proud that I wasn't flinging cuss words around like a drunken sailor.  Later, I accused him of laughing again and he said he wasn't but that he was crying.  I turned and looked and he was!  The only other time I got grumpy was with my nurses for asking me if I wanted to feel the baby's head.  I kept saying no.  To tell the truth, I was too nervous to feel my vagina.  I had an awful image in my head of what my vagina would look and feel like during birth and feeling around that area just freaked me out.  After the 3rd or 4th time they asked I said, "No and please don't ask me again!"

As the 2 hour mark approached I began to feel very, VERY exhausted.  At this point, during pushes I imagined myself running to Jesus and Jesus running to me and I silently repeated the song lyrics Jesus, Lover of my Soul.  I didn't plan anything to imagine ahead of time and this is just what popped into my head.  Jesus.  (Looking back, I wish I would have concentrated on the scripture Phil 3:14: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Oh well, there is always next time!)  Anyways, I was so exhausted and I knew that he wasn't on the verge of being born because the nurses still hadn't called for my doctor yet.  I kept asking when they were going to call her?  I was pushing in sets of 5 and 6 with hardly any break time.  And, then it happened.  I broke down.  I started to cry and told everyone that I couldn't do it any longer and I honestly felt that way -- how could I continue to do this?  It is such a weird feeling like you can't go on but you know you have to so somehow (and I don't know how) you gather the strength and you continue to push, through the pain and exhaustion -- you push.  So I continued to push.

Shortly after my breakdown I felt the emotions in the room change from tension to excitement.  The nurses were saying that it wouldn't be too much longer and showing me how much of the head they could see by making circles with their hands.  They asked again if I wanted to feel it -- even after I said not to ask me again -- of course I said no.  Mike was very excited as he could see a large portion head too.  Not only was I feeling the excitement but also the pressure, pain and burning from Eli's head wedging its way through my vaginal canal.  Talk about extreme pain!  (The worse pain I had felt in my life previously was getting my tonsils out when I was 14.  This was 100 X worse).  The excitement motivated me.  I knew that soon I would be meeting my son!  And, finally I heard the words that I had been waiting to hear for the last couple hours, "It is time to call the doctor!"  YES!  This meant he was on the verge of being born! 

Or at least I thought.

My doctor came in as I lay on the gurney naked and moaning.  I felt really bad for the other pregnant women nearby who could hear me as I'm sure that all the noise I was making probably freaked them out.   A few minutes previously I wouldn't have been able to imagine that the pain and pressure could get any worse and if someone would have told me that it was going to -- I would have asked for a c-section.  My doctor was good at encouraging me to push through the pain and she was also the best motivator to get me to push longer and harder.  Along with the doctor came a "birthing technician" -- someone to assist the doctor during birth and after birth -- and her trainee.  So it was me, Mike, our nurse Karen, the charge nurse, my doctor, the birthing technician and her trainee for a total count of 7 people in the room.

And, now for the finale...

Like I said, I couldn't have imagined the pain getting any worse but it did.  About 20 minutes after my doctor arrived I felt what I knew had to be his head fully crowning -- brings a whole knew meaning to the saying, "Ring of Fire."  This was the most intense pain I have ever felt and pushing only made it worse but there was no way I was stopping now.  I pushed with every ounce of strength I had left in my body (which after 2.5 hours I really surprised myself).   All of the sudden, I felt an immense amount of relief and I knew he was here!  Someone handed him to me and I swear the next 15 minutes I was filled with the most indescribable, incredible love I have ever felt in my entire life.  I didn't cry (which is surprising because I always cry when the baby is born on the show Baby Story).  I just stared at him -- completely mesmerized by the most beautiful baby in the whole wide world (okay, maybe I'm a little biased.)  As he lay on my chest, crying the cutest cry you've ever heard, I whispered to him how much I loved him and how much his Savior Jesus Christ loved him.  I don't think anyone else in the world even existed to me during those first minutes with him.  I can't even remember what Mike was doing.  I've heard that the moment you see your child you are changed forever -- and this couldn't be more true.  I love my son so much!  I can't imagine my life with out him.  I want the best for him.  And, I can't wait to see what the Lord has planned for him!

After about 15 minutes they took Eli to the warmer and Mike followed.  (A nurse had asked to take him earlier but I requested to keep him until my doctor was done sewing me up -- he was a good distraction).  Mike was a little camera happy and I told him that I just preferred him to be with Eli and comfort him during his inital tests.  They said Eli looked perfect and his Apgar score was 8-9.  We told a nurse to let my family know that he was born and after a while, my mom and dad came in to see him -- I guess they just couldn't wait one second longer because we hadn't yet invited them back quite yet.  Libby and David followed shortly after.  Everyone thought he was so cute and couldn't get enough cuddle time with him -- especially mommy and daddy!

So that is it!  Eli's birth story!  Words truly can't describe how wonderful it is to be a mom!  It may have been more difficult than a marathon and it definitely was the hardest thing I've ever been through but I would do it all over again for the most pefect ending ever:

Elijah Michael Stephens
Born September 14th, 2011 at 5:09pm
8 lbs 7 oz
20 inches

For pictures of this day:

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