If you haven’t already read part 1 of Isabelle’s Birth Story, go do that now, then come back and pick up with the second half. When last we left off, I was in hard labor, swearing like a sailor, and things were about to get REAL!
It’s Go Time
The tub was a huge help in easing the pain of labor. My husband was also a huge help. Between contractions (whatever few seconds of calm I got) he would hold my water out for me to drink. Suddenly, though, the tub stopped helping. Yelling stopped helping. Breathing stopped helping. The pain suddenly got quite REAL! Not like it had been fake before, but as if someone had taken my pain from an 8 on that little pain scale they use in hospitals and ratcheted it up to a 40! I knew without a doubt that it was time to get out of the tub. When my nurse heard me say that I was getting queasy and starting to feel pressure with my contractions, she knew right away that it was time to come in and check how things were going.
After checking me (and much to my disappointment), the nurse declared that I was 6 cm. Oh my!!! I asked for an epidural, STAT! There was no way on earth that I could endure that pain for any longer! While we waited she called my OB and told her to get there immediately! Remember that I said in part 1 that my nurse had been a midwife back in Poland? Well, her instincts and years of practice told her that my dilation was deceiving, and I would be delivering as soon as my water broke. Praise God that my OB’s office was just across the street. She changed into scrubs and rushed right over.
As soon as my OB arrived the nurse set about getting my room ready for delivery. Her instincts were kicking in and saying it was ‘go time’. At this point my contractions were right on top of each other with no rest between, I was writing in pain, feeling tons of pressure, and BEGGING to push. I distinctly remember my OB saying that she was going to try to check me quickly between contractions. HAHAHAHA! I told her, “Good luck with that”. Imagine my reaction when she said I was 6-7 cm, so nowhere near ready to push. WHAT!?!
After examining me my OB broke my water and right away we knew there was a problem. There was meconium (baby’s first bowel movement). For those who don’t know, this can be a problem for babies as it increases the risk of a serious infection after birth if they breathe in the meconium. Not only was there meconium, there was a TON of it. This could have been a very dangerous scenario, so they called in a respiratory therapist right away. By God’s grace there was a therapist available who got there quite fast. A minute later, as I was telling my husband, “I hate you a little right now. I mean I love you and all, but I hate you a little right now”, the anesthisiologist walked in. Keep in mind that I was nearly 9 cm. He announced that he was there for the epidural. Yeah right! I looked up and, through the pain said, “Well it’s a day late and a dollar short for that!” 😀
Let me pause right here for a moment and tell you something. I may not be able to go into labor on my own (until this time, that is), but I can push like crazy! Each delivery my pushing time has gotten shorter and shorter. Even with my 4th baby weighing nearly 9 pounds I only pushed for THREE minutes! Fast forward back to Isabelle’s birth. I was utterly desperate to push (as I had been for nearly an hour). The moment my OB told me I was 10 cm and cleared to push, I pushed, Boy did I PUSH. Poor doctor didn’t even have time to get her second glove on! I gave one STRONG push and out she flew! Thankfully God gave her quick reflexes so my doctor was still able to catch Isabelle, covered from head to toe in meconium, with one of her hands totally bare! I’m guessing she was quite glad she had changed out of her nice clothes and into scrubs!
A Glimpse of the Future
Let me start this section by saying Isabelle is now 1 year old, safe, and well. If she weren’t I promise I would have warned you at the start of this story. At this point in the story, though, things do take a minor dramatic turn.
Based on the thickness and amount of meconium, my nurse estimated that it had present for at least a week. My doctor said it was the ‘poopiest delivery’ she’d seen in 14 years of delivering babies. With the presence of heavy meconium, Isabelle had to be immediately passed off to the respiratory therapist in the room. I hated not being able to hold, or really even see Isabelle right away, but I knew it was for the best. It was vital that the specialist quickly suction out Isabelle’s nose, mouth, and lungs. To further complicate things, the doctor found a ‘true knot’ in Isabelle’s cord. This can restrict blood flow and increases the risk of fetal death, both during pregnancy and during delivery. These two things conspired to give Isabelle a bit of a rough start to life. Isabelle’s heart rate and oxygen levels struggled to stay in the normal range in spite of thorough suctioning. Even the administration of oxygen wasn’t enough, so they had to take her off to the nursery to get her more help. My husband followed her while my doctor attended to me.
Thankfully after about an hour Isabelle had rebounded enough to come join me in the room. Our baby-friendly hospital brought her to me so we could do skin-to-skin time to help both of us and just kept her on heart and oxygen monitors for a few more hours to ensure that she stayed well. It was such a huge relief to finally be able to hold my precious baby! What did come as a surprise, though, was that she was so TINY! Her predicted weight had been about 7 pounds. When they weighed her while working on her in the nursery she was 6 pounds 6 ounces. That made her my smallest baby of all!
Isabelle spent most of her first few days sleeping. The intense labor and fast delivery (combined with what we now know are other issues) really wore her out. That meant she wasn’t nursing very well. She would wake up for very small bursts and only nurse for about 4-5 minutes at a time. This was deeply concerning for the nurses. I noticed she would tire and unlatch fairly quickly and my gut said she was likely tongue-tied like 3 of my other children. **Side note- a month later she was diagnosed with a tongue-tie, just as I suspected.**
As part of their normal monitoring of babies they weighed Isabelle when she was about 36 hours old. Much to everyone’s surprise, Isabelle’s weight was significantly lower. She was down to 5 pounds 3 ounces, which was 18% lower than her recorded birth weight. That was nearly double the acceptable loss level for a newborn, so labs were sent off and our pediatrician was called in to check her out. Everyone agreed that she looked far too healthy to have lost 18% of her weight! That said, they felt that it was best to keep her in the hospital for one more day of monitoring as a precaution. Most of the time when there is a drastic weight loss, the doctor and/or lactation consultant will insist on supplementing with formula. Praise the Lord we worked with a fantastic LC and a pediatrician who is also a board certified lactation consultant. After I hand-expressed some they were pleasantly shocked with how much milk I was making (which is a whole other hilarious story that left my husband cracking up across the room). Knowing that my goal was to breastfeed the LC had it put in our chart to NOT supplement with formula, regardless of the weight loss. Instead we supplemented with dropper feedings of my own expressed milk. Little did we know at the time what amazing protection God was providing our baby by having her put that in our chart (more on that coming soon in a post about Isabelle’s Journey)! Thankfully within 12 hours she had started regaining the weight she lost, so everyone involved agreed that she was perfectly well and safe to go home, and that perhaps the cardiac monitors and CPAP (oxygen mask) were not properly accounted for during her first weigh-in. With that we were released to go home!
In hindsight, I can now see how Isabelle’s birth was part of God preparing us for the journey ahead. He was demonstrating how he would protect Isabelle, even when we were scared and didn’t know what was going on. He was showing us how he would provide us with medical professionals who had the wisdom and skills to help her. He was even reminding us that he gave us, as her parents, natural instincts and wisdom from Him to get our child safe and healthy! We had no idea the adventures and trials we were about to encounter over Isabelle’s first year of life, but God knew. He knew what we would need to get through this year and made sure we had it right from the start. For that (and so much more), I am so thankful to God!
What did God teach you through the births of your children? Share it here with us here.