So...it's been a while. I give you the birth story of Theodore William Rickman. I warn you, it's long. Just like my labor- ha! If you make it through, I shall reward you with pictures of Baby Theo. Now, now, don't cheat and skip to the end. :)
I had seriously reached the point in my pregnancy where I thought our baby boy would NEVER come out of me! I cannot fathom women who go to 41-42 weeks-what misery! I know there are women who are so thankful for every day of pregnancy- I was thankful for having a cervix that would eventually open and GET THAT BABY OUT! When I reached my due date(August 3rd) I decided I was done! I took the advice of my doula and tried two things:
1. I drank Raspberry Leaf Tea which is supposed to stimulate contractions of your uterus.
2. I pumped with my handy-dandy breast pump. (Which hurt like hell- I could only stand about 15 minutes before I gave up.)
After drinking 3 cups of the tea on Monday and one on Tuesday, still nothing was happening. On my appt. that Tuesday, my contractions FINALLY registered on the non-stress test but I was only 50% effaced and barely a fingertip, if any dilated. My contractions were painful and would get consistent, then irregular again.
On Tuesday, around 10pm, my contractions started getting regular again. This had happened so many times that I didn't think much and thought, Here we go again. I was so exhausted from pain that seemed to go nowhere and didn't dilate anything. Matt and I went to bed around 11pm-12am that night. However, this time was different. The contractions woke me up all through the night/early morning. They were so painful, I couldn't move- I just froze every time and cried out for Matt. I also felt a crazy strong pressure down there like I was going to pee my pants. About 230-3am, I couldn't lay there anymore- it was so painful!
Matt and I got up and I sat on the toilet to pee, which was a very painful position to be in. Every time I felt like I had to pee(which was a lot), I would be in tons of pain in that position. I finally got in a hot bath which felt incredible and Matt sat in the bathroom with me. We were both exhausted already from being up all night. I got in and out of the bathroom a couple times over the next several hours. As the sun rose and it started to get light outside, my contractions intensified-big time. I couldn't speak through them, I had to moan to get through them. Matt had a Contraction timer on his phone and was timing them from around 330-4am.
We had Mason, Jack and of course Will at the house with us and the boys all started to get up for the day. I was pretty sure this was the real thing but also still doubtful because of all the false alarms. It was time to start figuring out where the boys were going to go, if only to be just Matt and I home to cope with the pain. I remember walking in a contraction haze to the older boys' room and getting Jack and Mason some clothes. I had a contraction that I moaned through and Jack looked up at me and said, "Coley- are you ok?" He was so sweet in his concern for me. I said, "Yes the baby is coming and it sometimes hurts mamas when that happens." He nodded like he knew all the time. :)
We somehow got all the boys in the car and set off on a trek to drop them all off. Unfortunately, our car was also acting up and kept leaking all the coolant and overheating, so everytime we stopped anywhere, Matt had to fill it up again with coolant or water. We also have had construction and torn up roads all throughout our small town. Let me tell you-Bumpy Dirt Roads And Labor Do Not For A Happy Mama Make. We first met Jack's mom at Target. I did not want to have a contraction in front of her and I just didn't want to be in pain in front of her. Of course, right as she pulled up, on came a huge one. I worked through it.
I had a very strong urge to pee while at Target so I walked in to do so(incredibly slowly and labor breathing- I definitely got some looks).Being in the car was SO uncomfortable and such an awful position to be in. I needed to walk, stand, anything but sit. We still had to drop Will off with Matt's parents and Mason off with his nana. It seemed like it took FOREVER. We had called my doctor's office at this point and because my contractions were regularly 5 minutes apart and had been for several hours, they wanted me to come to the hospital and have the on-call doctor check me.
True to what we expected, my doctor suggested we drive down to the hospital in Denver, where the high-risk, VBAC friendly, doctor is located. We refused. They made it seem like our only option and when we refused, then stated, "Well, yeah, you don't HAVE to, it's just a suggestion." It makes me sad how women that know much less than I do and don't have the same experience just do what the doctor says, blindly trusting and not realizing they have other options. But, anyhow- back to the point.
We FINALLY met my doula at the hospital. (Seriously, it took us 2 hours to drop off three kids!) They walked me to a room. A different (female) doctor was on-call and I feel like everything lined up to be just how it should be. She was amazing. She is a doctor in the same practice however it was obvious her views weren't necessarily the views of the other doctors. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that she is a woman and a mother and realized I was lied to about my choices.
The first thing she said was, "Look, I know you have been getting A LOT of flack for your choice to attempt a VBAC. There are risks, but if you are serious about doing this, I will support your decision. However, we HAVE to be able to trust each other and agree that the #1 most important goal for both of us is a happy, healthy baby and mama, right?" I felt so comfortable with her and like someone was finally listening to me.
She checked me and I was 1 cm dilated and 70% effaced. Since I had been 0 cm and 50% effaced just the day before, we decided to stay and walk some and see if we could get labor rolling. She had told me that some women in this stage take hours-days to really get labor going. I was so hoping it wasn't days. I put two gowns on(one on backwards to hide my butt) :) . We walked around the labor and delivery unit and that floor of the hospital for about an hour. My doula was instrumental in helping me with the pain. She talked me through how to hang my body on Matt's and breathe/moan my way through. After an hour, I was checked again and was at 2 cm. I was so excited that I had made progress!
We decided to do some more walking. I didn't want to get in the tub until I had reached 4cm because I had heard/my doula also told me that water can slow down labor and I did NOT want to do that at this point. I walked for another hour with contractions becoming seriously more painful. I was checked again and was at 4 cm. My doctor was shocked I had progressed so quickly. 4 cm meant the hospital would admit me so on came the flurry of that. I remember feeling that this was a dream- I couldn't possibly ACTUALLY be in labor, and getting admitted to the hospital.
At this point, we walked a bit more and I tried out the birthing ball but hated it! I(and by I, I mean my doula, Matt AND myself...that pain makes it hard to make decisions by yourself) decided to get in the tub. The pain was getting quite intense. Oh, how good the hot water felt. It didn't completely take it away but it took the edge off.
At this point, lots of it is now a blur. Hours upon hours of labor,occasional cervix checking, finally giving in to some Fentanyl, being pissed at the second nurse when she came on shift and told me that she gives Fentanyl in between two contractions. Bitch. She really was an awesome nurse but that news did not please me. In fact, at one point I remember screaming out the bathroom door when I knew she was in the room, "and somebody has to wait for another damn contraction!" or something like that.
The things that helped the most with my pain were hot water, gyrating my hips while standing and hanging my arms on Matt/the counter/the portable bed table(which wasn't very stable). Other tricks that helped me were to moan- sometimes it got REALLY loud but I didn't care. My favorite position was on all fours and rocking back and forth- I did this on the bed and in the tub. Sitting or laying down was excruciating for me. Whenever it was time to check me, the contractions were horrible to get through because I was laying down. Every time I had a contraction, my doula would watch the monitor and tell me I was hitting the peak, and then tell me when I was coming down. That helped me SO much- to know it would end. She must have been able to tell by my noises the intensity of the contractions because even when we were in the bathroom and I was in the tub, she knew when I was hitting the peak and when I was coming down. I can't tell you enough how important it is to someone trying to go epidural free to have a doula to help with methods to ease the pain. Even if you know all of it, when you are in that much pain, you aren't thinking clearly. It helped immensely to have someone there to say, "Ok, let's try this, that's not working anymore, ok, let's try this, now let's try this." We just kept going back and forth in different positions, different activities. It also took some of the pressure off Matt and he was free to just be there with me, hold my hand, support me.
I did dilate to 6, then 7, 7.5, then it just stopped. No matter what I did, I could not get it to progress any further. We walked, I bounced, squatted, got in water, gyrated, on and on. I was in so much pain and exhaustion from not having slept for almost 2 days. It was now Thursday morning- early, around 1230am. I had been laboring for 26 hours and Fentanyl wasn't cutting it. The baby's head had not moved down further and they were afraid to rupture my bag of membranes because the doc was afraid the cord would come down first based on where his head was and cause a whole different set of risks. I hadn't progressed beyond 7-7.5 for about 6 hours and they were worried. The baby's head wasn't coming down like it should be, with how strong my contractions were and how close together. My doctor thought maybe it was a fit problem but everyone involved(including my doula) knew something wasn't quite right because my body just WOULDN'T dilate any further or move my baby down at all.
I have never been so emotionally, physically, mentally exhausted as I was at that moment. I had fought for this for 9 months, I was here, so close, pushing through, enduring pain and it just wouldn't come to fruition. We had to start considering a Cesarean though because along with all the other stuff, baby's heart was not accelerating and decelerating as much as it should have been and was changing. The other thing to consider was that with my prior C-section(the 2nd) they had found A LOT of scar tissue from my 1st C-section. There was so much, my surgery took a lot longer to open me up because of all the scar tissue. My doctor was concerned that if an emergency situation presented itself, she wouldn't be able to get in fast enough if the same scar tissue had grown back.
I remember feeling defeated and just crying. Bawling. In front of my doctor, the nurse, my doula, Matt. The doctor comforted me and told me, "You have done amazing, you have done everything right, I know how badly you want this but with the baby not moving down and no more progression after so many hours of labor, I just feel there is a reason he is not moving down. I will give you some time to discuss this with your husband." I looked up at him and while bawling, told him, "I just don't want you to be disappointed in me." My doula left the room to let us be alone.
One of the most special moments of my life followed. Matt looked at me, held me and told me, "Are you kidding? I am so, so incredibly proud of you." Together Matt and I made the decision to have a C-section.
A few minutes later, my water broke. My doctor was in the room and I remember her saying something about it being green and having meconium in it. At that point, my thoughts shifted to one thing: Let my baby be ok. I just wanted them to cut him out right then and there, as long as he was ok. I was so worried.
They wheeled me back to the O.R. Getting a spinal block in when you are having contractions SUCKS! I jumped off the table the first time before the needle was in. The anesthesiologist very nicely and firmly told me, "You cannot do that." I ignored him and moaned and screamed through my contraction and then got back on the table. The rest of my membranes broke at that point and went ALL OVER the floor, table, me. The doctor and I were laughing at how much there was and she said, "Now you know why women don't want that to happen at the grocery store." My doctor stood there and held my shoulders and told me how great I had done and how impressed she was with me while the drug doc did his thing. I love love love the doctor that I was blessed to have taking care of me, Matt and our baby boy.
Then they did their surgery thing. I knew the drill. I did have quite a bit of scar tissue again. I was so anxious for them to get our boy out so I would know he was ok. I kept thinking that he wouldn't be breathing and would need oxygen- I don't know why.When they got to where they could see him, the doctor said the cord was wrapped around his neck. I was even more worried. She unwrapped it from his neck. He finally was pulled out and hearing him cry was the sweetest sound! He was breathing. They showed me his beautiful face over the curtain and he was a little bluish purple. The pediatrician took him to the warmer- Matt went with and my doula stayed with me. I heard them say, "Look at those eyebrows!" We have since determined he has his Grandpa Bill's 'Andy Rooney' eyebrows. I couldn't stop crying, I was so glad he was ok. I kept asking if he was ok and kept getting told he was. Theodore(Theo) William Rickman was born 8-6-2009 at 1:42 am with tons and tons of hair!
I don't remember when they weighed him but remember being told at some point that he was 9 lbs. 2 oz. and 20 1/2 inches long. Wow!! See, that's just how it should be when you let your body go into labor when it is ready and your baby gets to grow until they are ready. When they brought him to me, after surgery, he was crying to eat. He was hungry right away! I latched him on and he knew just what to do. The differences in my 40 weeks + 3 days baby boy nursing and my 36 and 37 week boys nursing was, and continues to be, huge! They just weren't ready to come out yet! I am so grateful for all I was able to experience and have no regrets about any of the experience. It was an amazing, amazing thing and I got my Sweet Baby Theo at the end.
So....now....I present to you....my beautiful third son, Theodore William Rickman:
My big-little guy!
Mama, Will and Baby Theo
Just finished doing his favorite thing: Eating!
Our Theo absolutely completes our family!
These are all pictures of Theo from this past week, at 6 weeks old. His newborn pictures are on a different memory card that's at Matt's office.
It's amazing how Theo is here and it feels like he always has been. We are all so in love with him, even Will. Will gives him kisses, tries to share his Binky by putting it in Theo's eye and just loves on him. He is a little rough and learning how to be gentle. I feel like I say that a million times a day, "Gentle, gentle."
My birth experience wasn't what I expected(Are they ever?) however it has made me more confident, knowing that I can and did endure all I did. At the end of the day, it gave me the best result I could have asked for: a happy, healthy, beautiful, baby boy!!!