Ian’s Arrival!

April 24, 2013

Well, there is a good reason for the long absence from the blog.  Our Itty BD Baby arrived!  I admit I was starting to fall off the posts toward the end anyway.  Some of that was due to a ramped up work schedule near the end trying to finish up as much as I could before I had to leave.  Little did I know that I’d be leaving as early as I did, though.  This will be a very candid retelling of my birth experience; hopefully I don’t gross you out with the details, but for posterity sake I want to remember as many details as possible because this was such an amazing moment in my life.  I understand that not everyone’s birth experience is the same.  If I could have my way I would wish my experience on just about everyone.  This is a long post…feel free to skim if you don’t like details!

Where to begin?  In order to remember the sequence of events, I’ll just start from my 2nd to last doctor appointment.  Let’s see, I remember having contractions the evening of March 8th.  I had been having Braxton Hicks for a while now, but this was the first time I could feel the contraction come on and leave with actual pain (usually I only felt some tightening but no pain.  I made sure to drink plenty of water to rule out Braxton Hicks and started timing them around 10:30 pm.  They were coming every 5 minutes apart.   I stopped timing around 11 and went to bed.  Then over the weekend, nothing.

I went to my 35 week doctor appointment on Tuesday, March 12th (Happy Birthday Jack :)).  She noted that I looked like the baby had dropped.  She asked if I felt like he was riding lower and I told her no.  She made the funny comment that of course I wouldn’t know what it felt like because I’ve never carried a basketball in my belly before.  I thought it was cute :).  I mentioned the contraction episode to my doctor and she said that oftentimes when a baby drops into the birth canal you can feel contractions similar to what I described.  I was scheduled for my GBS test anyway so the doctor asked if I would like a pelvic exam.  Being curious to find out if those contractions had done anything I said yes.

She examined me and gave me the good news that Ian had indeed dropped head down into the canal and was pressing on my cervix (no wonder my pelvis had been hurting after exercising lately!).  She also informed me that my cervix was completely closed but the pressure of his head was beginning to “thin me out”.  I took that as good news and went on my merry way.

I was glad that I wasn’t yet dilated because we headed to Morganton that weekend for Brian’s brother’s wedding and if I had begun dilating I think I might have been nervous to be a 3.5 hour drive from the hospital.  So off we went to celebrate the wedding and see lots of out-of-town family.  What a great weekend!  It was uneventful in the contractions department but I was definitely noticing some swelling in my legs.  I remember it being a beautiful weekend, weather-wise which was nice because I didn’t have to wear socks!  Socks were not the most comfortable item of clothing toward the end…leaving my legs with nice indentations.  I started noticing, too, that I no longer had any ankles, lovely!

Well, after a lovely weekend it was back to work.  My next appointment was Wednesday, March 20th.  I saw the nurse practitioner so they did not do a pelvic exam.  They listened to Ian’s heartbeat (a steady 142 bpm) and informed me that I had tested positive for GBS.  Joy.  I was also informed that because of the positive results I would have to have antibiotics administered during my labor and birth.  I asked if it would be possible to have the antibiotics administered and then be disconnected from the IV so I could move around during labor.  I was told it would take an hour for the antibiotics to drip and that I needed to have it administered 4 hours before the birth.  I was pretty upset about all this.  In case you are just reading this blog for the first time, I have from the beginning desired a completely natural childbirth–no drugs, no meds, just my body doing what God created it to do–bring my child into the world.

I left the appointment feeling a little defeated and angry that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted.  It didn’t take long for the Holy Spirit to convict me of my selfish, self-sufficient attitude.  I called Brian to tell him the news that I would need antibiotics and he reminded me that God is sovereign. As I began to really think through my reaction to the news of needing “drugs” I surrendered control of the whole birth experience to Him.  It kind of shocked me that I was so upset about having to receive medicine, a medicine that would protect my infant from a potentially serious disease.  I began to wonder why I wanted the natural childbirth in the first place.  Was it because I wanted to be able to wear my badge of pride around my other strong, capable, loving mother friends?  Or did I want to be able to flex my muscle and claim, “Look what I was able to do on my own.”?  I quickly confessed my pride and close-handedness to the Lord and asked him to renew my mind so that my desire would be to have a healthy birth experience in the way He wanted me to have it so that all glory would be His.  It was also a stark reminder that there is little I can control in this world; certainly not how Ian was going to come into it.  I was trying so hard to hold on to things that I thought I could control and when one small part of my plan “fell apart” I started to fall apart as well.  Hmm, very clearly not trusting the Lord and His ways.  Well, as I said, I asked the Lord to renew my mind and He did and I was ok with having to have the IV and the antibiotics.  It was almost like a test–Debbie, do you trust that I’m in control? He seemed to be asking.  Well, yes Lord, I do.  Then trust Me.

Well, I finished the rest of the work week and as I was leaving the office on Friday I remember my coworker Jennifer asking if I had a busy weekend coming up.  I told her I did and then flippantly said, “See ya Monday, unless Ian decides to arrive!”  Oh the foreshadowing!

First, I was leaving work early because Brian’s coworkers were throwing us a small lunch shower, which was great!  Then, we had a small-group international dinner later that night.  But I was headed to a friend’s house who was going to help me make the Uzbek traditional dish of Osh/Plov.  Then, Saturday, my small group hosted a brunch for the women in our church and my mom was set to arrive just after lunchtime from Atlanta.  Sunday, we had church and then my sister Tracy was having a shower (which is why my mom came up to visit).  Tracy’s shower was from 2-4pm after which I promptly headed to our church’s new building to help with move in and set up.

While at the new building helping with setup I happily sat on the floor of the nursery cleaning children’s toys to prepare for the Good Friday service the following week.  After setting up we had a short time of worship in the new worship center.  During worship I started feeling the same type of contractions I had had on the 8th.  They felt like period cramps: not painful, just noticeable.  For fun, I started timing them again.  Once again they were coming every 5 minutes apart.  I sat through worship and then through clean up while waiting for Brian to be ready to head home.  I hadn’t had dinner yet so Brian offered to swing by the grocery store on the way home and pick up fixins for BLTs.  I wasn’t feeling so great so I went home and laid on the couch.

When Brian got home we made our dinner and I continued to time my contractions.  Again, they were remaining steady at around 5 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds to a minute.  By this time, my contractions had been a steady 5 minutes apart for about 3 hours (longer than the first contraction episode).  I started to get sleepy so I stopped timing the contractions around 9:30pm.  As time wore on Brian got ready to go to bed.  I was feeling slightly uncomfortable and the thought of laying in a bed did not appeal to me so I told Brian was just going to sleep on the couch that night.  He headed to bed around 10:30 and I settled in on the couch with all the lights on.  Around 11pm I got up to go to the bathroom and decided I wasn’t comfortable on the couch so I went upstairs.  I was starting to feel a little weird, not in pain, just not comfortable and kind of bleh–the contractions were still coming regularly.  I guess Brian wasn’t yet asleep because he turned his phone on to light my path to the bed in the dark room.

I asked if it would be ok if I slept with my bedside lamp on.  For some reason I felt like I’d be able to sleep better with the light on.  Around midnight I downloaded the contraction app on my iPhone so I could continue timing the contractions on my own by Brian slept.  The contractions were coming anywhere between 2 and a half and 4 and a half minutes apart and lasting anywhere between 45 seconds and a minute and 20 seconds.  At this point the contractions weren’t much worse than period cramps so I wasn’t thinking anything of it.  All during this time, Brian was up.  I think with the consistency of the contractions he was more convinced than I that this might be it.  I hadn’t yet packed a hospital bag so while sitting in bed he began asking me what I wanted in my bag.  I told him of a couple of things I wanted to include.  So he scurried around and gathered it all up.

Around 12:30 am I remember getting up to go to the bathroom and telling Brian I didn’t think this was the real thing.  My rationale was that our birthing instructor told us not to go to the hospital until we had our “bloody show” and I hadn’t had any blood yet so surely nothing was happening.  Well, as it turns out, when I went to the restroom I wiped and sure enough there was blood on the TP.  I remember telling Brian, ummm, there’s blood.  At this point, we agreed I should call the doctor to confirm this was normal.  I called the on-call doctor and waited for him to call me back.  Keep in mind, throughout this entire process I was never convinced I was in actual labor.  It wasn’t standard textbook so while I write this and recall everything I can see tell tale signs that this was labor at the time I had no idea.

When the doctor called me back I informed him my contractions were around an average of 4.5 minutes apart and that I had bright red blood.  He told me I had two options.  I could, one, come to the hospital and have my cervix checked, or I could, two, wait until the office phone line opened at 7:30am and  call and schedule an appointment to be checked that morning at the doctors office.  Convinced this was nothing I told the doctor I didn’t think the contractions were progressing any and that I would just call the office at 7:30.  He did confirm that blood could indicate dilation of the cervix.

Well, after that I continued to time the contractions, which were coming on average every 4 minutes or so.  They were beginning to get a little more painful and somewhere during this time I had to dash to the bathroom and throw up.  I remember thinking, oh gross there’s the lettuce from my BLT!  And as the hours wore on I got to the point where I was having to breathe and concentrate through each contraction.

Brian, amazing man that he is, was an excellent birthing coach through it all.  He kept asking me if I wanted to try different things, like go for a walk, lie down and rest, eat something, drink something, rub my back, etc.  He was so patient with me.  Around 2 or 3 am we decided to try to go for a walk outside.  We made it down the driveway to the street before I informed him that I need to go to the bathroom again.  So back to the house we headed.  I remember it being so cold.  I was wearing black gauchos, neon green socks, my black crocks, Brian’s Clean t-shirt, my Appalachian hoodie sweatshirt and a white fleece.  A lovely combination, I assure you.

After getting back inside I decided I’d prefer to walk laps around the inside of the house.  So off I went making my rounds through the kitchen, the formal dining room, the formal living room, down the hall and all over again.  I would pause as a contraction came and lean over the dining table or the kitchen counter to breathe through the contraction, then set off again.  At some point walking got tiring so I went to the couch.  Brian urged me to lie down on the couch and try to rest my eyes for a bit…and if you can believe it I fell asleep.  Each contraction woke me up but for the most part I was able to lie there and rest between contractions. My contractions were roughly every 2.5 minutes apart at this point and lasting between 30 seconds and a minute.

I asked Brian to grab my exercise ball (aka birthing ball) at some point and continued my contractions sitting in a c-sit on the ball.  That helped relieve some of the pressure on my pelvis.  I found that I couldn’t really sit straight up anymore because of the pressure.  Reclining helped ease that.  It was very hard to stay awake between contractions.  I just remember feeling so tired.  Brian was great at reminding me to just let the contraction happen and not tense up.  We had read a book recommended by a dear friend from church called Christ Centered Childbirth.  It was super helpful even for Brian because it enabled him to be on the same page as me understanding that the pain cycle has a lot to do with spiritual warfare.  When you are anxious and afraid you are not trusting in the One who created you to experience this process.  So, Brian was an excellent cheerleader reminding me to trust in Christ and to put my fears in him and to allow my body to do what God created it to do.  He was also good about making sure I was drinking water or eating if I felt hungry or weak.

After laboring on the birthing ball for an hour or so Brian suggested I try to take a shower.  His mom had taken showers before all of her births and she always commented about how much better she felt in and after the shower.  So we headed upstairs.  I got to our room and couldn’t bring myself to go into the bathroom.  A contraction hit and I just dropped to the floor and laid on the rug.  The rug was uncomfortable so I moved to the carpet (which wasn’t much more comfortable).  But I fell asleep again after the contraction.  The next one that came I remember saying, “I can’t do this Brian, it hurts in my back now.”  And of course he was there reminding me to calm down and let the contraction happen and not tense up and to trust the Lord.

After that contraction I moved back to the bed (way more comfortable than the scratchy carpet!).  Another contraction came, a little more bearable than the one on the floor, and afterward I felt like I was going to throw up again.  So I jumped out of bed, well, jumped as quickly as a woman 9 months pregnant can, and rushed to the bathroom.  I vomited forcefully and remember thinking this is crazy, I feel awful.  But still this entire time I was convinced I was not really in active labor, just pre-labor or early first stage anyway.

All this time Brian had been silently praying asking God for wisdom and guidance on when to know it was time to go to the hospital.  After vomiting Brian felt like it was time to take me to the hospital.  He said he noticed some significant changes in how I was handling the labor and felt like we shouldn’t wait any longer, no matter how far along I had progressed at this point.  So off we went.  I remember looking at the clock as we were pulling out of the driveway and it was 5:45am.

I don’t remember much of the drive to the hospital other than Brian made sure to drive the speed limit and there were a lot more cars out and about that early than we expected.  Well, we arrived at the hospital around 6:15am and parked.  As we were walking in from parking area I had one contraction near the entrance.  We made it inside and checked in with security.  By this point I was shaking pretty badly, partly from being outside in the cold but mostly from what my body was going through.  The security guard took note of me and asked, “Are you really that cold?!”  I rememeber thinking, seriously?!  But I responded, “No, I don’t think so,” with bated breath.  And Brian incredulously said, “I think she’s in labor…”  We laugh about it now, because you would think the security guard, whose job it is to check people in who are in labor, would have recognized a woman in labor and not asked such a dense question!

Anyway, we got on the elevator and I had another contraction as we arrived at the 2nd floor.  I shuffled off the elevator and finished the contraction as we headed to the registration desk.  Brian took care of getting me checked in as I headed to the bathroom.  I remember thinking as I was in the bathroom, maybe I shouldn’t have locked the door…what if I need help?!  Thankfully I was able to do my business, have a contraction and make it out of the bathroom all on my own.  Brian was waiting for me outside the door and led me back to the registration desk where they promptly took us back into the L&D room.  It was about 6:30 at this point.

We met the nurse who asked me how far along I had been at my last doctor’s appointment.  I informed her that my cervix hadn’t been checked in two weeks and I was scheduled to be checked again at my upcoming Wednesday appointment but at my previous appointment I was 0cm dialated but that my cervix was thinning.  She asked me if she could check me again and of course I said yes.  After performing the exam she gave Brian and me a funny look.  I immediately asked, “It’s a zero isn’t it?”  I was convinced we had come to the hospital too soon and they were going to send me home to continue laboring.  The nurse kind of smiled and said, “No girl, you’re 8cm.  You’re going to have a baby soon.”

I started crying!  I was overwhelmed by two emotions.  One, I was so happy that I had been able to labor so long at home and that end was near.  Two, the end was near and I was going to have to start pushing, and that frightened me just a bit.  The nurse was very encouraging.  I  continued to have contractions, but now I was hooked up to a monitor and they were starting the IV for my antibiotics for the GBS.  At one point, I again said, Brian I can’t do this.  To which he responded with, “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”  And to which the nurse added, “That’s right, God made your body to do this!”.  All very helpful reminders for me in the moment.

Well, 7am was shift change, so my nurse was replaced by a younger nurse and a nurse student.  I barely remember the switch.  I think I just thought these two nurses were the ones that helped with delivery and the first nurse just got you all set up.  Anyway, during the shift change while the nurses were at the door my water broke!  I called out, I think my water just broke!  And the nurses came in and confirmed, yep it sure did.  It was pretty obvious… :).  The nurse checked me again and reported I was 9.5cm and I would be pushing very soon.  I only had one small part of my cervix that needed to finish getting out of the way.

Shortly after that exam I had the uncontrollable urge to start pushing during my contraction.  The nurses came in and moved my bed into a sitting position and got the leg prop thingies pulled out.  The nurse student was on my right and Brian was on my left holding my legs for me.  Pushing was so…interesting.  For almost 7 hours or so I had been working on breathing through contractions.  Inhale deeply exhale fully, repeat.  Now I they were wanting me to inhale and hold my breath while pushing.  Not natural!  But once I got the hang of it it felt like what I was supposed to do.  I pushed for about 30-40 minutes.  At some point the nurse informed me that Ian had a head of dark hair.  I was stunned that his head was already showing because I seriously could not tell that my efforts had made any progress.  She asked if I wanted to see his head with a mirror and I said no way!  I wasn’t sure I wanted to see what all was going on down there.  She asked if I wanted to feel his head and I said yes so she guided my hand to where his head was…and to be honest I had NO clue what the heck I was touching.  I just remembered thinking she’s going to want a good reaction so I said something like, Oh my gosh that’s so neat!

Soon after, the doctor arrived.  It ended up being the Dr. that was my least favorite up to this point…but was also the doctor I had had a long chat with about how I wanted my birth experience to go.  He ended up being great and I’m very happy with how he handled things.  I told me to give a good push and that Ian’s head would come out and then to not push again right away because he would need to help position him correctly for his shoulders to come out.  Well, before this mighty push the Dr. started massaging my perineum to help stretch it out to help prevent a bad tear.  That was probably the most painful part of pushing.  I remember tensing up and saying, it burns it burns!  I had heard horror stories of the “ring of fire” you feel as your baby crowns.  Well, I agree it is painful, but I was expecting excruciating pain…and it was more like ouch this hurts and it’s uncomfortable but I’m not going to die, kind of pain.  And then suddenly the mighty push came and there was instant relief of the burning sensation.  Now, I didn’t know this, but Brian got to see that the umbilical cord was wrapped around Ian’s body a couple of times.  The doctor expertly got it off quickly and with one last push out he came.

The moment I saw Ian lifted up all memory of the contractions and the pain of pushing were instantly gone.  It was incredible.  I even remember thinking, wow such relief, I have no pain!  The doctor lifted Ian up onto my chest and I got to cuddle with my sweet boy.  He was perfect!  He was squalling when they pulled him up and out but immediately calmed down when he got on my chest and they put a warm blanket over us.  It was SO surreal.  Was this guy really ours?!  Amazing!

Brian and I were amazed that this little guy had made his arrival, and so quickly!  We were enthralled with him and how perfect he was.  We snuggled for quite a while and even allowed him to root around and try to nurse for a few minutes (didn’t latch but he gave it a good effort!).  He even pooped some meconium on me, ha.  Shortly after a nurse came in to give him his first bath, weigh and measure him.

Ian Barnabas Lowther
7:49am
7.0 lbs
20.0 in. long
34 cm head

There are so many more memories from our first few hours together and days in the hospital, but I think I’ve gone on long enough for now.

Ian, we are thrilled that you have joined us.  And I can’t believe you’ve been here for a month already.  My how time passes quickly!  You are a joy your mom and dad and we thank God for you every day.  We look forward to how you grow and mature and pray you exemplify your name Ian (God is Gracious) Barnabas (Son of Encouragement) as you grow up.  We love you!

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