Oliver Nguyen Fralin // A birth story
I know they say you should sleep when they sleep but I figure if I don’t get this down on paper (or keyboard) soon I’m probably going to forget.
March 30th was our due date, and I remember waking up that morning excited and disappointed that I hadn’t gone into labor yet. The last hash mark was added to our countdown chalk board. My Pregnancy Center app alerted me that I was a full 40 weeks. Jeff made the most delicious chocolate chip pancakes a pregnant lady could ask for. Our plans were simply to hang out for the rest of the day and enjoy the last bit of downtime that we were probably going to have for a while while trying some various “tricks” to get things going. I had some spicy food for lunch. Got a pedicure with Beth. Did a lot of
walking waddling around town.
From everything I had read, heard, and was told in our child birth classes, labor would probably be a gradual process and start off with some mild contractions here and there that would eventually get stronger and grow closer together over the course of days or hours. Of course this was not the case for me.
We were told to call the hospital when my contractions lasted a minute long, were five minutes apart and was steady over the course of an hour. Around 11:30 that night while we were in bed I started to feel some really sharp pains while I was asleep and finally woke myself up enough to realize I was having contractions. I remember turning my cell phone on every time a contraction hit and always seeing an 8 in the minutes part of the hour. They were 10 minutes apart. Around midnight it became almost unbearable and I finally woke Jeff up to keep track of the contractions for me. All of the sudden from 10 minutes, they were only 2 minutes apart! They only lasted for about 30 seconds though which didn’t seem long enough if we were going by the text book definition of when to go to the hospital. I rolled around and curled into a ball, did the breathing exercises we learned while Jeff ran around and finished packing the last minute items in our hospital bag. Poor Deegan was so confused I’m sure and was following us all around the house. Whenever I tried to walk and would have to stop and kneel down on the floor, he’d come over and lay next to me while I waited out the contraction. I love our dog so much.
After another hour, Jeff called the hospital, gave the phone to me and the doctor on-call told us to come on in. It was a little after 3 in the morning when we headed out the door which I guess is a good time to have to go to the hospital because there’s no one else on the road.
We rolled up to the emergency room and it was quiet and not as chaotic as I had pictured it (or us) being. They got me in a wheelchair, the front desk called up to triage and said “I’ve got another one for you,” checked me out and admitted me pretty much immediately. At that point I was 4 cm and 100% effaced.
Before going into all of this I had told myself that I would try my best to do it all without any intervention but that if I couldn’t handle it then I wasn’t going to be stubborn about it. I don’t know if it’s because my contractions just came on so quickly and so strong that I didn’t have enough time to let my body work up to or get used to it but I opted for a dosage of Fentanyl that helped “take the edge off” but wouldn’t numb me like an epidural would. It had to be administered every hour and I definitely took them up on having it every hour for the first couple hours until I was informed that it would do nothing once I moved into active labor which is when I decided to just get the epidural. And man am I glad that I did.
The majority of my laboring was pretty quiet (even though it lasted 24 hours) up until the last few hours and Jeff and I tried to get as much rest as we could. The doctor eventually broke my water to speed things along but I ended up getting an infection in my uterus that made me spike a fever and in turn make Oliver’s heart rate speed up. They put me on antibiotics, and I started getting the shakes (from the transitioning to active labor) and once Oliver’s heart rate jumped to over 200 bpm, the doctor was determined to get him out asap. He tried to get me to push when I was at 9 cm. Nothing. Then tried again when I was 9.5 cm. Still nothing.
At one point I had sat up to talk to my parents and from the gravity of sitting up, the epidural wasn’t working in the upper part of my ab area so they gave me a dose of lidocaine for the pain. Well that completely numbed my entire lower half which was fantastic only it wasn’t when it came time to push Ollie out. I still wasn’t progressing as quickly as they wanted me to so they had me turned over on my side/belly with my leg over a pillow to try to help widen my hips out a bit more. That eventually got too unbearable for me too as the epidural wasn’t being distributed evenly again but luckily that little maneuver worked because after they came in to check on me again it was time to start pushing for real.
During the process of trying to push when I wasn’t ready and trying to get me ready quicker, the doctor kept telling me to prepare myself for the possibility of a c-section if we couldn’t get him out as soon as we needed to. I told him that I really wanted to avoid that as much as possible but that I completely understood if it came down to it. He was very understanding and discussed this with the next on-coming doctor and they agreed that it was still safe for me to try to deliver him vaginally.
Because I was so numb I couldn’t feel what I was doing when I started to push. The nurse and I actually played tug-o-war with a bed sheet to help me push which was the only way that I could get him out. I remember being exhausted and almost falling asleep between each contraction and the room was mostly quiet until it’d be time for me to push and Jeff would cheer me on and count to 10 while the nurses yelled “push, push, push, push, push!” I didn’t say much. I didn’t curse Jeff out. I barely even looked at him or anyone else in the room. I just kept staring at the spotlight on the ceiling and felt a bit helpless in not knowing what I was doing or if I was doing it right. Having a temperature of over 100 didn’t help either and at that point I was also wearing an oxygen mask to help get Ollie’s heart rate down. I remember being really hungry.
When the doctor came back in to check on me and saw that I hadn’t made much progress, she threatened me with a c-section if I couldn’t get him out by 11:40 p.m. She was worried about him being stuck in the birth canal so I had an hour to work him out after already spending an hour pushing. And they turned off my epidural so that I could start feeling the “pressure” and know when and feel where to push. Within a half hour I was able to get him to the point where they had to call the doctor back in to deliver our little guy which was a little frustrating because when the nurse could see his head (and told me we could make a mohawk out of his hair) she told me to WAIT. I was like WHAT? I’ve almost got him and now you want me to stop!? They paged the doctor and the rest of the delivery team moved in as I tried to push him out some more. I wasn’t making much progress anymore with the doctor because I wasn’t tugging on the bed sheet so the nurse came back over and gave me the sheet to pull on. Once his head was out I was able to reach down and touch it which I was hoping would give me the motivation and energy to push, push, push even harder.
He got stuck and the doctor kept telling me to push even when I wasn’t having a contraction because it wasn’t good that he was just halfway out of the birth canal. I heard her tell us not to worry if we don’t hear him cry once he’s out because they didn’t want to stimulate him since they were afraid that he might have the infection that I had as well. Finally at 11:30 p.m. our sweet baby Oliver made his entrance into this world and both Jeff and I breathed a sigh of relief that it was over. We both thought that we’d be more emotional than we were but I think because it was almost a dangerous situation for him we were just relieved that he was here and he was okay. Unfortunately I didn’t get the immediate skin-to-skin bonding after he was born because they whisked him over to the station across the room where they cleaned him off, measured and weighed him before taking him to the nursery to get hooked up to an IV with antibiotics — it was so sad seeing him with a splint on his teeny tiny arm to keep the IV in straight.
He was 8lbs, 6 oz and 21.5 inches long with 10 fingers and 11 toes…yes, ELEVEN toes! But have no fear, our kid is not a freak, for the extra digit is no longer there. Apparently having an extra finger or toe is totally common for newborns and they basically just tied it off like they do the umbilical chord and the thing was supposed to just fall off. I say “supposed to” but at one of our checkups the doctor just went ahead and removed it because it was pretty much ready, just needed to be helped along. You can’t even tell there was ever anything there.
So it was Easter Sunday that we had him and we didn’t leave the hospital until Wednesday because we had to stay a full 48 hours for his antibiotic treatment. On the last night there, Jeff got seriously ill and ended up in the ER which was not only awful because he was sick, but I felt so helpless trying to calm a newborn on my own on basically zero sleep for the past 72 hours and not being able to help or comfort Jeff because I was afraid we’d catch whatever he had. He joked that he was only faking it to get some sleep but if that were the case it was the most expensive nap he’s ever taken. But thankfully he ended up being okay though we never did figure out what exactly caused him to be ill.
Fast forward to today, six weeks later, and save for the semi-sleepless nights, I am loving being a mom. The lack of sleep was incredibly awful at first but by the time I get over that drowsy sleep-drunk feeling and see Ollie’s sweet little face and how content and comfortable he looks while nursing, I quickly get over my sleepy woes. And he’s been doing better at night which is of course great but I can’t wait until he can sleep through the night. And feed himself. And change his own diapers. Neigh, is potty trained. The kid can sleep but he HATES, hates, LOATHES, having a wet diaper. He will fuss as soon as he pees which I sort of don’t blame him for ‘cause I wouldn’t want to sit in my own urine either but still, we are blowing through diapers like nobodies business. We definitely need to invest in stock for Pampers.
I go back to work on Monday and I don’t think I’m ready to re-enter the outside world and let someone else take care of my baby just yet. So I’m holding him as much as I can and letting him sleep in my arms and on my chest as much as I can. And I can’t stop staring at the kid which I’m sure if he knew any better would be really freaky to him.
As far as parenthood goes though, so far so good. And even though it can be rough trying to figure it all out and adjusting, it’s getting better and better each day. And my heart grows with an overwhelming love that I never knew.