Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Birth Story

This is for those of you who want to know but are too kind to ask.

We wanted a natural, medication and intervention free birth. We had just switched to The Birth Place, a birthing center, the week before Selah was born. I was taking off work 9 days before she was due. But I went into labor on my last day of work. We had just had a baby shower three days before... I wasn't ready, mentally or emotionally. Contractions started at 3:30am Tuesday morning. She was born 50 hours later... 37 hours after my water had broken. During our hour and twenty minute drive to The Birth Place, my contractions exploded into painful back labor and leg cramps that immobilized me. They were like Charlie Horses... excruciating leg cramps that would tighten my legs into immobility. Totally different pain than the contraction. I felt like I could handle relaxing into the ebb and flow of the painful contractions, but went out of my mind with the intense, locking pain of the back labor and leg cramps. I became vocal, but not able to verbalize what I was feeling. As soon as we got to The Birth Place, the midwife took stock of where things were... my blood pressure was 160/110, I was shaking, nauseous, my contractions were doubling and tripling on top of one another, not coping well with the intense pain, and Selah's heart rate would fall off the charts during a contraction. I was only 2 centimeters dilated. We were soon transferred to the hospital by ambulance. Another excruciating 30 minute drive with all its bumps and jostling--not to mention getting poked with needles in preparation for IVs. I almost passed out twice.

After arriving at the hospital, I was given an epidural to reduce my blood pressure, which it did. It also gave me relief from pain. I was also bedridden with a catheter, on IV fluids, antibiotics, and oxygen. Over the next night and day, it turned into a pitosen/epidural war. The epidural would reduce my blood pressure and bring Selah's heart rate back into a normal pattern, but would relax my contractions into being twenty minutes apart. The pitosen would pick up the contractions, but would increase pain, increase my blood pressure--which would bring Selah's heart rate dangerously low. By the second night we were running out of time... I had finally moved to 9 centimeters and the nurse staff helped me push for several hours. That brought back the excruciating leg cramps. I sweat, I cried, I vomited... I can't tell you how many times I cried Jesus' name. Neither Kenneth or I had slept for two days. By 5am Thursday morning the Doctor came in to check me (for the 15th time) and softly stated that he didn't recommend a vaginal birth. She was "turtleing"... moving down into the birth canal and then back up into the womb. We could continue for hours or days and then have a dead baby. He would go prepare the operating room....

I sobbed. I had tried so hard. I felt betrayed by my own body. My blood pressure had never been a problem before... my contractions had never been consistent the whole time and that made progression very difficult... and why couldn't I push out my own baby?? I felt like a failure even before I had become a mother. I've had my nose broken before--and barely cried. I've been through races and events that required incredible endurance. Why couldn't I handle this? After all that, the caesarean took 15 minutes. I laid on the table, with my third epidural, in no pain, shaking, crying, listening to the doctors talk sports while my abdomen was cut and tugged at. I couldn't understand how I'd gotten there. Kenneth was there with me. He watched as she was pulled out. When I saw her, the nurse was checking and cleaning her. She had a head full of straight, dark hair. I thought, Who’s little Hispanic baby is that?! Oh, she’s ours! Wow, she’s beautiful—she doesn’t look like I expected—she’s really pink—where are they taking her?—oh good, Kenneth’s with her—her cry is beautiful—I’m sooo relieved….

There would be three more days of recovery in the hospital. I had been given 3 epidurals, 2 bags of pitosen, 4 bags of antibiotics, 3 bags of IV fluids, and oxygen often. After birth I was given morphine and percocet. It was difficult for me to be thrilled to see Selah. I wanted to be thrilled--I wanted to be happy. I was relieved, but not happy. That made me feel ashamed. But despite that, I knew God had answered my prayers. She came out wide-eyed and alert. She locked eyes with me the first day. The Lactation Consultant put her on my chest and she picked her head up and did a push up with her arms and moved herself down to one of my breasts to nurse--without any help from me. She is strong and healthy. And I know that is the grace of God. He had told me weeks before her birth, "I will care for you (both)." I didn't know how broken I would be after her birth... but I knew He would be true to His word. And He was. Today I can agree with a friend of mine... even after all that, it was not too high a price to pay for a miracle.

7 comments:

Thea said...

I think you deserve a purple heart!!! That's amazing, Hope...Selah is lucky to have you for a mommy.
Thea

cheryl said...

i remember when you broke your nose! that was crazy. seriously, hope. i hope that your heart is settled in how this went down. Thank God for the wisdom of doctors. so you didn't get to have her the way you planned. you get to love her and be her only mommy! she's a treasure. I'm going to tell sharon to call you. you share this experience!

Joseph said...

And some idiot will presume to say that there is no God!!!

Brenna said...

Hope - you are so honest and truthful. She IS a miracle and I am so happy for you. Thanks for sharing your story!!

Stacey said...

Hope, one thing I really like about you is how candid/honest you are. You don't hold back. Selah is a beautiful baby and she is so blessed to have you as her mommy.

Congratulations on your new family memeber!

Stacey

Hope Clark said...

Thank you guys... it's good to be truthful. :)

rachael said...

She is beautiful!!! You are beautiful! I'm sorry to hear you had hard run. Sounds like you handled it like a pro. You should get a gold metal for that one girl. Sounds like you are already making a great mommy. I wanna come see you and your little one soon. I remember when you broke your nose... you sweet thing you. You were all worried about how it would look in my wedding pics. Love you!!