Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Caleb's Birth Story {05.16.13}

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Hi there, lovely Mama & Mou readers. My name is Jessica, and you can find me on a daily basis over at my blog, The Newly. I blog about marriage, motherhood, and every little bit of life in between. I am wife to my sweet husband, B, and a new mama to our precious son, Caleb. I recently embarked on the stay-at-home mom journey. Which has been more of challenge than I honestly expected. And which has made blogging even more interesting! Today, I'm so excited to share a little piece of my motherhood story with you here.

On Wednesday, May 15, I was 37 weeks, 1 day pregnant with my first child - a sweet baby boy. I headed to work as normal that morning, little knowing that my world was about to change in a big way.  Around 2:30 pm, I received a call from the nurse in my OB's office. She informed me that some blood work I had done earlier in the week had come back early. We hadn't been expecting to get the results for at least another day or two, so I knew the news wasn't going to be good the minute I heard her voice on the line. The Mayo Clinic had rushed my results based on the information that my blood had given them. I was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) at 37 weeks, 1 day. 

With the ICP diagnosis, my pregnancy immediately became one of the rare, less than 1% diagnosed with this condition. For those of you who aren't familiar with this condition (which is probably most of you), ICP is a liver condition in which bile acids are not able to be broken down properly in the mother's liver, and end up backing up into the bloodstream and traveling into the rest of the body. While not necessarily life-threatening for the mother, bile acids are toxic to the baby, and can be fatal. The risk of stillborn is exponentially higher in mothers diagnosed with ICP. And for some reason - doctor's don't know why yet - the risk is greater once a baby hits 37 weeks gestation and beyond. 

After the diagnosis, everything began moving at warp speed. My doctors wanted to take no chances. With my life or the life of baby Caleb. Stacy (the nurse) informed me that I was going to be induced. That night. We were having a baby! I remember sitting in my car after lunch, shaking from head to toe as this news was relayed to me over the phone. I was terrified. After losing our first pregnancy to a miscarriage, I couldn't bare the thought of anything happening to my sweet baby boy, so each minute after the diagnosis felt like a minute in which something might go wrong. But I was also terrified of being induced. Though I hadn't prepared a specific birth plan, I had been hoping for a vaginal delivery at 39 or 40 weeks. I worried that inducing my labor at just 37 weeks would result in high stress on both Caleb and I, resulting in a c-section. Which I didn't want. I had to remind myself to stay positive, and know that no matter what happened, everything was being done to ensure that Caleb arrived as safely as possible. And my body was no longer a safe place for him to be.

My husband and I arrived at the hospital right at 11:00 pm on May 15. All inductions at the hospital where I gave birth are scheduled for late evening. I'm not sure why that is, but I can't say I minded. I knew that I would be lying in a bed for hours, and I would much rather do that at night than in the middle of the day. B and I headed for OB Assessment, where we completed our paperwork. We were then whisked to our labor and delivery room in the Family Birth Center. The room was calm and peaceful, with hardwood floors, a private bathroom, and a sleeper couch. The only hint that anything would be happening in that room was the presence of the medical equipment on the wall behind the bed, the stirrups folded up under the bed, and the warmer where baby Caleb would be placed after birth for cleaning, weighing and measuring. 

Soon after arriving, getting our things sorted out, changing into the gaping hospital gown, and climbing into the bed, Sherri - our nurse for the evening - arrived to get the process started. She was sweet as can be, and explained everything that was happening. The first step in the induction process for me was a medicine called Cytotec, which was given to me around midnight to help prepare my body for birth and get the contraction process started. After a few hours had gone by, I was given Pitocin to strengthen the contractions and help initiate the labor process.

Around 8:00 am on Thursday, May 16, I had really begun to feel like the labor process was starting. I had been having contractions throughout the evening, but many of them had passed without my notice. Not anymore. The contractions were coming faster, and were stronger. Despite this, I was still only around 2 cm dilated. At 9:00 am, my midwife, Jeri, arrived. She was on call for deliveries that day - she rotated delivery call shifts with the two OB doctors in the practice B and I had chosen - and let me know that she would be delivering baby Caleb. Both of my doctors would also be available in the event that more complex medical procedures were needed during the birth. She had me get up and walk around, use the restroom (which are both things that doctors don't typically allow after Pitocin drips have been administered, but which I was so thankful for after laying in a bed all night), got me settled for a short time in the rocking chair in our room in order to give my lower back a break, and had ginger ale ordered for me. A beverage had never tasted so good. While she was there, Jeri explained that she was going to go ahead and break my water to keep the contractions coming and encourage the labor process. Although the water breaking didn't hurt, the intensity of the contractions immediately became stronger and started coming faster. It wasn't long before I was asking about the epidural.

Around 10:30 am, the anesthesiologist arrived to administer my epidural. Though I'd heard horror stories about epidurals and was a little afraid, mine was done smoothly and took immediate effect. Pain relief had never been so sweet. I was able to weather the contractions for the next couple of hours with no notice before I began to feel them again. At that point, Jeri ordered a dose of Demerol to help manage the pain, and checked me again. I had dilated to about 4cm at this point. By 2:00 pm, the pain medication had begun to wear off once again, and I started feeling a lot of pressure along with contractions. Jeri warned me that at this point in the labor process, she would not advise any further pain medication because of the effects it could have on the baby during the birth. The nurse checked my progress once again, and to everyone's surprise, announced that I was 'complete.' I had gone from 4 cm dilated, to complete and ready to push in about an hour. Baby Caleb was ready to go.

Around 3:00 pm, I began to feel the need to push, and at 3:18 pm - after about 20 minutes of pushing - Caleb Monroe arrived. B was by my side the entire time, encouraging me, rubbing my shoulder, kissing my forehead, and crying with me when his son arrived. A nurse in the delivery room was able to get some precious shots on our camera as Caleb made his debut. These pictures and the video are precious to me, though I remember each moment vividly. 

We ended up staying in the hospital for 2 nights after Caleb's birth. Our little man had still not urinated by the time the doctors came around the morning after his birth. Not wanting to proceed with his circumcision before Caleb had accomplished that milestone, our OB recommended that we stay another day. Our stay at the hospital was a lot more pleasant than I could have ever imagined it would be. The room was comfortable and set up so that we were able to keep Caleb with us the entire time, everyone was so friendly, and it was a relief to know that we would be taken care of and have all of our needs met for an additional 24 hour period. Becoming a parent for the first time is overwhelming in itself, so having the additional help of the nursing and lactation staff at the hospital was much appreciated.
On Saturday, May 18, we brought Caleb home from the hospital. And have been loving on him ever since. There are times in which I look at my son's face and feel an overwhelming sense of, "This is forever." Our family of two has been forever changed to a family of three. And, while this is a big change, it is one that I would do over and over.

*As a side note, though ICP is very rare - occurring in less than 1% of normal pregnancies - it is also misdiagnosed or undiagnosed on an alarming basis. Many doctors aren't familiar with the condition, don't know the symptoms, and aren't proactive about testing for it. This website is a reliable source of all information related to ICP. If you are pregnant, please take a minute to look over the information and be sure that you don't have any of the symptoms. It could save your baby's life!


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