Wow. These past 6 days have been a whirlwind of emotion. Right now we’re exhausted but totally full of joy too. Emily asked me if I would write down the story of Ian’s birth from my perspective while it’s still fresh on my mind. I had the idea to post it on the blog since I know a lot of our family and friends are readers and would enjoy a few more details that the standard – March 12th @ 4:41 PM; 8 lbs 15 oz; 20 ½ inches long. So here’s how it went down:
March 8th – Emily starts to itch all over but has no rash.
March 9th - She calls the midwife and learns about a few different things that could cause itching.
March 10th - Midwife expresses concern that Emily could have cholestasis of pregnancy (a liver condition caused by pregnancy where the flow of bile is impaired). She recommends we have blood work done.
8:30 AM- we go to Sparks Clinic (by the mall) and tell the doctor we think Em might have cholestasis. We felt good about him because he used to be an OB-GYN. He runs some liver function tests and tells us that Emily does have some abnormal liver enzyme levels but since her biliruben is normal, it’s not cholestasis. He’s not sure why the enzyme levels are up and offers a few theories that don’t sound threatening, and then he assures us that it’s not cholestasis and that we can go home and wait for labor to occur naturally.
12:30 PM – we get home from the clinic feeling encouraged that it wasn’t cholestasis.
1:00 PM - Our midwife calls and says that she’s been researching cholestasis more and feels like it’s likely that Emily has it. She recommends nixing the home-birth idea and transferring care to the hospital. She told us that women with cholestasis normally get induced at 37 or 38 weeks and here we were just one day away from the due date. This was obviously startling and crushing news, especially since the Dr. just said we were “a.o.k.” less than an hour ago. Still, we trusted our midwife because she’s a pro at what she does and we started looking into re-arranging our plans.
2:00 PM – we start looking online at more info about cholestasis and find out that Emily is actually a textbook case….the elevated enzymes that the doctor said were probably just because of fats built up in the liver were actually unmistakable indicators of cholestasis (when combined with the severe, rash-less itching out of nowhere). How the doctor was so off on this is quite alarming and quite frankly annoying. I would have respected him much more if he had said, “you know, it’s been 30 years since I was in med school, do ya’ll mind waiting a few minutes while I google ‘cholestasis’ and then I’ll get back to you.” Since one of the effects of cholestasis in pregnancy is sudden stillbirth, it’s not something to mess around with. I don’t fault him for not knowing a lot about it b/c it’s not a common condition….but you have to fess up if you’re not familiar with how diagnose a certain disease - you can’t “fake it till you make it” in that line of work. It was this guy’s overconfidence, not his ignorance, that makes me upset with what happened. Ok, I’m off that soapbox.
3:00 PM we start calling a bunch of people to find out what our options are since all of our prenatal care had been with our midwife.
5:00 PM - Our friend who’s a nurse in Labor & Delivery at Sparks helped lead us in the right direction and actually went with us to the hospital to get things rolling.
10:00 PM – After a long time of running tests and waiting, the docs say that it looks like Em does indeed have cholestasis and they decide to induce. I go home to get some food and supplies we’ll need.
11:30 PM – the doc induces labor w/ a cervix softner.
March 12th (Due date)
12:30 AM – Em’s contractions start to get closer together and a little more intense.
2:00 AM – water breaks….contractions get harder….em’s dosing off between them. I’m putting warm washcloths from a crockpot on her back at the start of each contraction.
9:00 AM – Our doula arrives. This is was right on time as I was reaching the end of my effectiveness as Emily’s sole labor coach. Emily’s mom got there around the same time as well.
9:30 AM – Em’s at 7 cm and starts to have pushing contractions and has to fight off the involuntary urge to push. I think this is what they call transition. This is the part where Emily went from being in a lot of pain to total agony. This was torture for me and definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to witness. Still, Emily was doing so well breathing through the pain and listening to our coaching. She was praying often out loud and asking God for strength and help, which He gave her.
1:00 PM – Emily’s fully dilated and starts to push. We see some progress at first but after an hour the baby has only come down the birth canal a little bit. At this point the resident doctor gets his supervising doctor. She comes and immediately feels that the baby’s head is faced the wrong way (occiput posterior). This makes it a lot harder for the baby to move through the birth canal.
2:00 PM – we start trying some different positions that would get the baby to spin around and get facing the right way. We also try some different positions besides the typical flat-on-your-back hospital bed pose.
3:30 PM – after little progress the doctor recommends a C-section. By this time Emily has given 199% and looks like she’s about dead. “I don’t have anything left to give,” Emily said after a contraction….her face said it all though….she was glazed over and pale….too weak to even open her eyes more than a squint. Her legs were shaking in between pushing and she often moaned, “my back……my back.” The baby’s upside down position caused this more excruciating back labor. After deliberating for a few minutes we all decided that a C-section is the best way to go. They start prepping Em for the surgery; meanwhile her contractions continue.
3:45 PM – As they’re hooking up a catheter to Emily for the c-section, the nurse notices that she can see the baby’s head. They call the doctor back in and she feels that the baby has come down slightly while Emily has been pushing on her own…..this triggers a second round of pushing where we can actually see the baby’s head at the perineum….still not much movement though with the pushing. The doctor suggests a vacuum to see if that’s the little extra help the baby needs to come out. After three tries with the vacuum, it’s still not happening and they go back to the original plan of c-section.
4:35 PM – They start the surgery and have a difficult time getting the baby to come back to into the uterus…..he was pretty stuck halfway in. Finally, I see a baby boy come flying out of Emily’s stomach and he lets out a short cry. He was whisked away to a nearby table where they gave him some oxygen and suctioned out the gunk in his throat and nose. He was healthy, though, and breathing well. The nurse let Emily see him for a minute and they both stared at each other. He was a living miracle.
5:30 PM – After the nursery did all they needed to with Ian, I finally got to take him back to Emily and introduce him to his new friends and family. He did a super job nursing for the first time, which was a big relief at that point.
So, to summarize:
§ We have a little baby boy and he’s proof of God’s power and love. He was conceived as a direct response to when we cried out to Him back in Nicaragua.
§ Although, we didn’t get to have a home birth, we still are so grateful for hospital and medical technology. After going through a birth hospital-style, I can say that I’m even more confident now that home birth is the way to go if you’re low-risk. Because of the cholestasis, we were high-risk, and the hospital was the safer choice for the baby. If anyone is thinking about a natural birth in a hospital, I’d highly recommend a doula….ours was invaluable.
§ This isn’t the first time that we’ve made plans only to see them get flipped upside down…..but we were once again reminded of God’s sovereignty….nothing catches him off guard and we can trust that our loving heavenly father will take care of us.
§ I got some new insight into my beautiful wife Emily….she was so tough and pushed through it even when she had run out of steam several hours ago. She endured back labor without an epidural! She also maintained an incredibly godly character throughout it all and was a witness to us and the rest of the staff there….I’ve never been more proud of my wife than on March 12th
§ Now, we’re parents and we have no clue if we’re doing this the right way….so we’re asking questions, reading, and enjoying the journey of figuring it out together. Thankfully we have two really great models to follow in our parents.
§ Did I mention Ian is a miracle? a fully functioning micro human-being more complex than any machine man has ever built…..yet, he started from microscopic cells just 9 months ago in Emily’s belly. His existence alone is a wonder that praises and glorifies our Creator and Lord.