Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Simon's Birth Story

Most people I've talked to in the last little while know that I have been antsy to have my baby for a few weeks. What most people don't know is that I have also had the impression throughout my pregnancy that something intense was going to go down. There was a placental bleed in the first trimester when I thought I was going to miscarry, but even after that resolved, I felt like something was going to go wrong. That's not normal for me. I'm a pretty optimistic person, and I had a normal, low risk pregnancy both times with no red flags. I'm grateful for those impressions so that I was somewhat emotionally prepared for the challenges that came with this birth.

Ty and I planned on a home birth this time, and we were all ready to go. Ty submitted his final project for the semester at 11:59 pm on March 18th (baby's due date), and we went to bed. At 2, I woke up feeling a pretty intense contraction. I didn't want to pay attention too soon, but I couldn't sleep through them, and they were coming every 5-7 minutes. I took a shower and ate a snack, and the contractions stayed consistent. My labor with Will was 18 hours, so I was trying to settle in for the long haul, but things felt so much more intense this time around. I debated about calling my midwife or waiting, and I settled on calling her.

I talked to Eve at 4:30, and then texted my mom and sister to have them head to the house for the birth. Eve got there at 5:15, and Hailey and my mom were about 5 or 10 minutes after that. The first thing Eve did was listen to the baby's heart tones through a few contractions, and it was obvious that there were major decelerations happening at the peak of each contraction. At that point I was dilated to a 6, but baby's heart tones were problematic. We said a prayer together, and Tyler gave me a blessing, and we knew we needed to go to the hospital.

Because we had planned on a home birth, I didn't have a hospital bag packed, so we will threw a few things together and rushed to the hospital which is normally 15 minutes away (it took us 10 to get there). We left Hailey with Will, waiting for Tyler's mom. We got to the hospital at 6:20, and my contractions were consistently getting more intense, and baby's heart rate was still decelerating with each one. Luckily, he was recovering quickly between contractions, but since the most likely problem was a pinching in the cord, he needed to be born. I had progressed to an 8, and at the suggestion of the attending nurse, we decided to break my water.

When the doctor broke my water, there was meconium in it which is another risk factor, and baby really needed to be born now. Unfortunately, the doctors wanted me to labor on my back or side which made the contractions infinitely more painful. I asked if I could move to my hands and knees on the bed, and they didn't really want me to, but I had the strongest impression that I really needed to be on my knees. My mom and Ty and a nurse helped me turn over, and it felt so much better. The contractions were still intense, but I felt like I could cope better. I stayed that way through one contraction, and when the next came, I felt the urge to push, but the Spirit told me to wait. I know that I was only able to progress those last few centimeters because I followed the Spirit and changed positions, and if I had pushed during that contraction, the baby would have been in distress until another contraction had come so I could push him out.

I turned back over to my back at the insistence of the doctors, and when the next contraction came, I pushed three times, and he was born. The cord was wrapped around his head almost like a set of headphones which was why he'd had the decels as he descended. It was so fast and chaotic, but we were all glad that he came quickly and without the need for surgery. It was 7:36 am, barely more than an hour since we had arrived. They set the baby on my chest and worked to get him to cry. He did cry, and I delivered the placenta with no complications and no hemorrhage this time, so that was lovely. Unfortunately, because of the meconium, so he had to go to the NICU for a little while. He was 8 pounds 7 ounces and 21.25 inches long, and his weight was taken after he had pooped a couple of times. He’s almost a full pound heavier and over an inch taller than Will was at birth.

Tyler went with him, and I stayed in labor and delivery with my mom and Hailey and Eve. It was strange not to have my baby or Ty or Will with me. I felt sad without them. Ty and I hadn't agreed on a name, so he was nameless and not with his mama for a couple of hours. We were finally able to visit the NICU after a little while, and baby's respiration was quite good, but there were no doctors or nurses in sight to release him, and I had to get checked in upstairs, so I left my husband and baby again. It was even worse to leave them the second time. Ty finally brought him in when it was 11ish, and I was finally able to breastfeed the baby and talk about names. I'll write another time about the meaning behind his name, but we decided to name him Simon Robert Johns. I love the name and the baby.

We felt good to go at that point, and we wanted a 12 hour discharge, but the pediatrician wouldn't agree to that due to the meconium. We looked over the against medical advice forms, and I really wanted to go home to my own home and bed. The midwives at The Birth Center are always on call, and I felt like we would be in great hands with them. Ty even called our insurance to see if leaving AMA would cause a problem with our claim (it wouldn't). The hospital staff pretty much withdrew care when we mentioned that we might leave earlier than suggested. It was actually nice to have a break from the constant interruptions, but it was also concerning because no one was taking vitals or monitoring anything, and no one ever actually laid out the risks of going home early until Tyler pressed the nurse for an answer. We ultimately decided that I would stay with Simon and my mom would be backup, so Ty could go home and be with Will overnight in order to disrupt his life as little as possible. We felt kind of bullied into staying, and I think we'd have been fine, but Ty is naturally risk averse, and we decided that I might be able to rest better and take better care of Simon without worrying about Will too.

We live so close to the hospital that Ty actually went home and napped for a couple of hours in the afternoon before coming back to the hospital. I was able to nap off and on which was nice, but I think my mom was up for most of 24 hours without rest. She's amazing, and I'm so grateful to have her as part of my birth team and cheerleading section in general. It's been so nice to have her support. So far, Simon has been a much sleepier newborn than his older brother (who seriously never slept), but we still had a tough first night, and I wouldn't have survived without my mom.

Through the night (from about 2 am-4 am), Simon’s respiration rate was high. Because of the meconium in the fluid that puts him at risk for pneumonia if paired with a fever or other symptoms. Simon didn’t have any other symptoms, thank goodness, and by 6 am, his rates were normal and healthy. I wasn’t worried about his respiration through the night because he was crying a lot and was struggling to breastfeed during the times when the nurses were checking his vitals, and that obviously makes the rate higher, but the on call pediatrician didn’t seem to care about circumstances or anything else we had to say. She wanted to keep Simon another 24 hours even though my mom is a birth assistant who has neonatal resuscitation credentials and medical training and was going home with us, and we have access to a midwife who is on call 24/7 who can better support our care since she actually knows us and is willing to come to our house if needed.

As I thought and prayed about it, I felt comfortable with the decision to go home. We had to sign an AMA form, but I was not impressed with the pediatrician. She did not explain any risks we were assuming, nor did she tell us what to look for in Simon as warning signs that we needed to return to the hospital. It was an experience that assured me again that as William and Simon’s parents, Ty and I are the ones who ultimately have the stewardship over their health and well-being. I think it’s too bad that so many doctors are unwilling to really listen to parents or even try to understand their perspective. (I know there are good ones too. I just didn’t happen to come in contact with any through this experience). So we took our baby away from the hospital against medical advice, and I have to say: I feel so much better being at home. Simon is breathing really well. We’ve gotten more rest. Will gets to be with us. And I don’t see any downsides to our decision. I’m so grateful that we have the Spirit to help us make these decisions because otherwise, I think this would have been another depressing day in the hospital rather than a chance to be all together as a family and start recovering from an intense birth.

Overall, our outcomes were good, but this birth was nothing like the home birth I had pictured. It was fast and furious and pure chaos, but Simon has such a sweet and relaxed personality which has made the experience sweeter. The highlight was definitely when Will came to meet his brother. I wasn't sure how much he understood about the baby brother in my belly being an actual human, but as soon as he came in the hospital room, he knew his brother and was enamored with him. He didn't want anyone else to have a turn holding him, and he was so sweet with him. It melted my heart and made the train wreck of the morning worth it.

This was not the birth I wanted or had planned, and that's been hard and emotional, and I'm sad about it which is okay. It doesn't mean I don't love my baby or that I'm not grateful for hospitals and medical professionals, but I'm allowed to be sad, and I am. I'm counting my blessings that Simon is doing well and was born without surgery. I'm humbled that he was released from the NICU relatively quickly. I'm so glad I didn't need an epidural, so I could walk around immediately and feel ready to go right away. Most of all, I'm grateful for constant promptings from the Spirit that brought Simon safely here. My heart is truly overflowing.

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