Yes, the question has been settled - Buddy Bear was an early baby. So excuse me for having been absent for a few days and for any
sporadicness sporadicity continued absence *laugh* from posting over the next few weeks. I won't be completely gone because I still have some loose ends to tie up and I enjoy blogging, but I'm not promising how much I will be here.
Mr. Incredible said that Buddy Bear made up for coming early two weeks early by taking his time getting here, and he wasn't joking. This was the hardest and longest of my four labors - over 24 hours. So much for what I've heard about each labor being shorter and easier! If you wish to read more about it and don't see the rest of this post, just click the Read More link. I promise I won't be graphic, but I know not everyone wants to read long, wordy birth stories. There are more pictures after that link, and you can always just look at those but not read the post. If you continue reading, consider yourself warned. :)
I had a regular doctor visit on Friday, June 13; I was 37 weeks along. Braxton-Hicks contractions had been increasingly bothering me, but I just tried to ignore them since I was sure that Buddy Bear would be born sometime in July. My doctor thought that he had finally turned head down instead of being in a breech position, but she scheduled an ultrasound for the following Thursday's appointment, just to make sure. I left her office resigned to several weeks of increasing discomfort and pain.
Mr. Incredible had already decided that he needed to go ahead and get the baby's room painted and ready, so Friday night (6/13) he painted the ceiling. Saturday, he painted the trim and walls, and on Sunday he put together the crib. We didn't have a mattress for it, but at least the crib was together! I'll post before and after pics in another post; it turned out really well.
I noticed that every day after my Friday appointment I had some contractions and that they seemed to occur more frequently. I still didn't pay too much attention, figuring they were just the annoying practice ones. I complained a bit to Mr. Incredible, who told me that the baby couldn't come until after Wednesday; he had to go to class for his work that day, and the class was about 100 miles from home. He really did worry that I would go into labor while he was away and not have anyone to watch the girls or take me to the hospital. Thankfully, that didn't happen.
Monday morning, I cleaned out the excess junk that had accumulated in the baby's room and made everything as ready for him as I could. Monday night, my church had a baby shower for me. It was nice, and Buddy Bear received so many lovely, thoughtful gifts. I was thankful that I had cleaned out his room and had somewhere to put the presents.
On Tuesday night, Mr. Incredible took the girls to spend the night at the farm while he spent the night with his parents so that he wouldn't have as far to travel to class on Wednesday morning. He called me at lunch on Wednesday to see how I was doing, and I told him I was okay. The girls had a blast at the farm that day. They were so excited about going fishing that Mama couldn't hold them off past 9 a.m. They ended up fishing for about 2 1/2 hours and caught 40 fish during that time! I was glad they had a good time, and it was nice to have some alone time, particularly since I was feeling increasingly yucky.
Thursday morning found me helping my partner Linda with a difficult design. I worked with her until it was time to get the girls ready to be dropped off at Rosie's while I went for my doctor's appointment. I was feeling worse all the time but tried to ignore it. Since I was feeling miserable, I decided to go ahead and take my suitcase in the van and also leave the girls' car seats with Rosie - just in case I didn't come back from the doctor. (Rosie wasn't feeling too great herself, and I really appreciate her keeping the girls for me anyway.)
I was on time for my 1:45 p.m. ultrasound. After the ultrasound confirmed that Buddy Bear had turned, I waited in the exam room for my doctor. I was feeling really miserable and was nearly crying. When my doctor came in, she immediately noticed that I was very uncomfortable and asked me about it. I told her that I had been having contractions since the day before but hadn't been timing them since I figured they were just the fake ones.
Since her exam revealed that I was 2 cm dilated, she decided to hook me up to the monitor to find out how often the contractions were coming. The results showed they were consistently 3-4 minutes apart. She told me that I was actually in labor and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I gave a decidedly affirmative answer. I had been about 1 1/2 cm dilated when I went to the hospital with the girls, and they were all born in about 12 hours, so I figured Buddy Bear would probably be born around 2 a.m.
I made some calls from the doctor's office parking lot and a few others from the hospital parking lot - to Mr. Incredible, Rosie, my parents, my in-laws, and a few other people I needed to let know what was taking place. I then carried my suitcase and purse with me to the admissions area. The admissions lady looked at me rather strangely and asked if I was there to be induced. I replied that I was not - that I was already in labor. She remarked about me carrying my suitcase, and I told her that I had driven myself there and had no one to carry it for me. She got the few items of info she needed from me and had me wait for a nurse to come take me to Labor and Delivery. When the nurse came for me, she didn't have a wheelchair and didn't even offer to take my bags. I walked and carried my own suitcase, which I found both mildly amusing and annoying.
I had two nurses attending me; one was new to the hospital, and the other was helping her learn the ropes. The new nurse started asking all the admissions questions while the other one took care of the other things, like putting in an IV. It is important to know that I hate needles and particularly despise IV's. My veins are knotty and tend to roll; I have never had an IV placed in less than two tries, and I was already dreading that part of the labor. The nurse did get the IV placed on the second try, but it felt painful. When I told her, she just said that was normal. I had always known them to ache, but this one actually hurt; however, since the nurse didn't seem concerned, I didn't say anything else about it.
It was nearly 5:00 p.m. by this time, and my parents had arrived. (We had already planned that they would keep the girls while I was in the hospital and that they would meet us at the hospital to get the girls.) My doctor had given orders that I be allowed to walk until she came to check on me around 7:30 p.m. The nurse told me to be back to my room by 7:15p.m., and my parents and I went down to the lobby where Mr. Incredible soon arrived with the girls. His parents arrived not long afterward. We all visited for a while, and then my parents took the girls and went home, expecting that they would see the baby when they returned in the morning.
At 7:10 p.m., Mr. Incredible and I headed back to my room as instructed. Shift change occurs at 7:00, and when my new nurse came to check on me, she noticed that the area around my IV was red and swelling. She asked how it felt, and I told her it hurt. She realized that the IV was not actually in a vein and that the fluid was just going into the skin. My heart sank when she told me that the IV would have to be redone. She tried a couple of times (which brought the number of times I had been poked up to 4) and then told me she would give me a bit of a break before trying some more. Considering that each attempt to put in the IV left me shaking violently from nervous tension and had me nearly hyperventilating, that was a good idea.
My doctor didn't arrive until 9:30 p.m. I still didn't have an IV in place, though there had been attempts made by the best nurses on the shift, and additionally discouraging was the news that my labor had not as yet progressed. After more time and two more attempts, the IV was finally placed on the eighth try. It ended up being put in a vein that crossed my right wrist bone - a weird place but the only one that worked.
I had intended to walk some more once the IV was in place, but after all the poking, I decided that I was ready for the epidural after all. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist misjudged the depth of my epidural region on his first attempt and went completely though it, meaning that he had to try again. The second attempt was successful, but he warned me that the botched first attempt could result in an epidural headache. I didn't really care. I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up when the baby was ready to be born; that was what had happened with my previous three labors, and I saw no reason why this one should be any different.
Several more hours passed. I did sleep for a while and was surprised to discover that it was nearly midnight. Another check revealed that I had still made no progress, and that was with Pitocin being administered. I realized that Buddy Bear might not be born in 12 hours like his sisters had been. Poor Mr. Incredible's parents were still there; they decided to try to get a little sleep in their van.
Time passed without my notice - until the epidural started wearing off on my right side, and I started increasingly feeling the contractions. I really don't remember what time it was. I know it was mid-morning because my parents came breezing into the labor/delivery room with the girls in tow. When they came in, the pain was pretty intense, and the contractions were coming 2-3 minutes apart. I was struggling not to lose control and told them that now was not a good time to be in there. I particularly didn't want the girls seeing me like that because I knew it would frighten them.
Mr. Incredible was my rock. He let me squeeze his hand, wiped my face with a cool washcloth, encouraged me, and did everything he could to help me. I was so glad he was there. I didn't really get to rest between contractions. In the first place, there was only about 30 seconds between the time one ended and the second began; in the second, every time my uterus quit contracting, both of my calves started. So it was like waves of pain that started in my abdomen, went to my legs, and then mercilessly started all over again. I tried using breathing techniques to help manage the pain but ended up whistling through the contractions instead. (Mr. Incredible thought that was really odd, but for many years I have whistled when I am hurting.) I really wanted to cry but felt like if I once started, I would lose what little control I had and things would turn really ugly. The nurse did her best to help. It took two increases in the epidural before I finally received some relief. The pain never did completely subside like it had before, but it was manageable.
Through all of that, I was still stuck at 4 cm with contractions ranging from 2-4 minutes apart, and it was already 10 or 11 in the morning - about 20 hours since I had been to my doctor's appointment. I was beginning to wonder how much longer they would let me go before deciding I needed a C-section. I didn't want a C-section, but if it was the only way to have the baby safely, I was okay with that.
My doctor decided to try to trick my uterus and ordered the Pitocin drip to be turned off for 20 minutes and then restarted. I also tried shifting positions - sitting up for a while and then lying on my right side for a while. Whatever the cause, when my doctor checked me again not too long after noon, I was almost completely dilated and ready to begin pushing. What a relief!
I had been up since 4:00 a.m. on Thursday - about 32 hours, hadn't eaten in 24 hours, and had been in labor for at least that long, if not longer. I was a little worried that I might not be strong enough to push like I needed to, but thankfully I was given the strength I needed. His head emerged in about 5 pushes, and the doctor quickly told me to quit pushing. I didn't know it, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around Buddy Bear's neck, and he was purple and blue. (Mr. Incredible told me about it later.) Dr. F. quickly placed two clamps and then snipped the cord in between. She told me to push again. One push saw him completely out, and Buddy Bear was born at 1:13 p.m on Friday, June 20. They suctioned his nose and mouth, and he let out that beautiful newborn cry. He weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces and was 20 inches long.
Mr. Incredible got to hold our son first while the medical staff cleaned me up. He had so wanted a son, and I was happy to see him holding his heart's desire. I was also happy to learn that I had no tears or other problems that would cause me discomfort! After the long labor, it was wonderful to have an easy delivery and the expectation of a quick recovery.
Once I was taken to my room and little Buddy was brought to me, everyone came to see the baby. Pookie and Miss Muffet were really excited. Pookie kept telling everyone that she had prayed to God for this baby, and that was nothing less than the truth. I let each of the girls sit by me in the bed and hold the baby. Baby Bear was so funny! When I placed Buddy Bear in her arms, she got this look on her face that said, "What is this?!" and immediately shoved him back at me. I had to laugh as I took him from her.
Because my water had been broken for over 16 hours, the pediatrician wanted to observe Buddy for 48 hours to make sure that he had not contracted an infection. May I just say that a hospital is a boring place to be? We were all ready to go home when we were given our release on Sunday morning!
Buddy Bear and I are doing well. Other than the expected tiredness, the only problem I am having is that I did, indeed, end up with an epidural headache. The doctor prescribed some medication that really does help, and I hope that this will be gone completely within a few days.
Thank you for all of your prayers and concern. I appreciate each and every one of you.