August 11, 2014

And Now We Are Six

This is the story of Grace.

A little over a year ago I made a trip to the temple.  When I picked up the name I would be taking through that day, it was Grace Bill Brown.  I knew the way you just know some things - we were to have a daughter and her name was to be Grace.  But I wasn't yet able to just state it out as fact, so when I came home I told Adam that if we were ever to have another daughter, I thought her name was supposed to be Grace.  At that time we had been talking about maybe having another child, but nothing was definite.  It became the plan pretty quickly, but it took us a while to meet that goal.  Thankfully we had great doctors who discovered my pcos and were able to help me get my health lined up and Christmas morning I was able to give Adam knowledge of his gift of fatherhood for the fourth time. And yes I was relieved to see on the ultrasound that it was indeed a girl and I hadn't been crazy. :)

When I am pregnant, I worry about things more and I tend to request a priesthood blessing from my husband more often.  This pregnancy was no different.  Through a couple blessings, I was told that Grace was excited and happy to be a part of our family and couldn't wait to get here.  I was promised that both she and I would be protected.  I was promised that I would carry her full term.  I was promised that even though things may not be the easiest as we struggle through trials, things would be made easy, easy being a relative term.  I have carried those promises in my heart any time I worried about her birth or how we would manage with Adam being far away, or the house selling, or, or, or...  I knew that we would be protected, Grace would be ok, and that my burdens wouldn't be so heavy.  I have seen every one of those promises in the last couple months as blessings in my life.

A couple weeks ago, I moved  a piece of furniture.  I was 35 weeks, and started to have regular contractions.  At about hour 3, I was contemplating going to L&D to get checked, when I remembered the promise that I would carry Grace to full term and that we would be protected.  I said a prayer and told God that I trusted His promise and that I would trust that Grace would be full term developmentally if it was His will that she be born that night, but that if she wasn't I asked that the contractions be stopped.  I drank some ice water and laid down.  Immediately they slowed down and by morning they were stopped.

Last week I started to get sick.  I have a stuffy nose all through every pregnancy, but we'd had a long weekend with a family reunion and then my kids all got sick; coughs, fevers, etc.  I got really run down and my stuffy nose turned into what I suspected was a really bad sinus infection.  By Saturday night, when Adam was home and I could get in, I went in to the quick care and got some antibiotics. 

I wasn't really feeling any better, so Sunday Adam asked his Mom is she would be willing to watch the kids for a few days while I got some rest. I knew the baby was coming probably soon, and wanted to be better beforehand.  She is amazing and readily agreed to take on my circus.  :)  I had been taking raspberry leaf supplements, and Monday night decided to start taking Evening primrose oil. Both are supposed to help with getting the body ready for labor, but neither are supposed to put a woman into labor, only ripen the cervix. I had hoped to avoid what happened with Charlotte, when my water broke, but  then I had no contractions.  Is it possible taking EPO caused my water to break?  I suppose there is a chance.  I think it is a much bigger possibility that having a sinus infection and being sick was the bigger culprit.  But I don't think either would have started labor if she hadn't been ready anyway.

 In any case, the next day my water broke.  And, as with Charlotte, nothing really was happening right away. But I had a few contractions here and there, once or twice an hour.  I prayed about going in and was reminded that we would both be protected. Even though I would have liked to have her born on the 5th so I could say both my boys were born on the sixth, and both girls on the fifth, I didn't feel good about rushing in just to pick her birthday.  I felt peace in my decision to let her have a day to come on her own. Especially since I knew it wasn't my Dr on call that day, but another doctor in the practice - the only one I don't like as he tends to be intervention happy and not very supportive of vbacs.   As long as I wasn't being checked at a hospital the chance for uterine infection is extremely low and I was already on antibiotics anyway, so I puttered around the house, moved some furniture (if it worked before, it should work again, right?) When I talked to Adam that day, we decided he would bring the kids home so that they could at least be home for a few days before leaving again after the baby was born (they would be going back to his Mom's for a few days to give me some recuperating time with the baby).  As soon as I knew he was coming home, my body decided to get to work and contractions started coming regularly.  I think I just needed his support and to know he was going to be there.  I called my SIL who I had asked to attend the birth with me and she got on her way. 

Things progressed smoothly through the evening. When Adam got home he gave me another blessing.  With each birth I have him give me a blessing as labor starts and it is something I look forward to every time.  This was no different.  He again told me how excited she was to come join our family and that she would come through the night.  He promised me that the doctors and staff at the hospital would be proficient and take very good care of us.  He also told me there would be no need to be short with the nurses.  That gave me a giggle.  I wondered if I would be tempted to be short with the nurses, but he thought that it meant that they would be wonderful and I wouldn't feel the need to be snippy.  (I have had to stand up to a couple nurses in the past)  Turns out he was right. From the moment we stepped into L&D, everyone took such good care of us. Everyone was friendly, no one was pushy, and we felt like we were in good hands.

About 2:30 in the morning I started to feel a little shivery and knew it was time to go in.  When I went in, my contractions had been 3 minutes apart.  But something told me I wasn't very far along.  I Joked with Ann, 'watch me only be 4 cm', and I was right.  The contractions weren't doing much.  (We were to find out later that my being sick can make the uterus not work very well, and contract irregularly, which was just what was happening)  They gave me an hour, but I made no further progress and Grace didn't look like she was tolerating labor very well. In this hour they had also been trying to find a good vein for an IV, but they really couldn't get one to work.  After three tries and three big bruises, they went to get an ultrasound machine and finally got one in the bend of my arm.

 With no progress and Grace looking distressed they suggested pitocin to move things along. But her heart would have decelerations with every contraction, and not any accelerations, which is what they look for to know she is doing well.  Her heart was also a little fast in general than what they like to see. So they stopped the pit and gave me terbutiline to stop the contractions altogether, and give her a break.  As her heart rate would drop pretty low each time, the Dr came in and told us that we needed to decide how we wanted to proceed.  He thought a section might be necessary and we agreed that if that was what needed to happen, we would do it.  I also remembered that in my labor with Gabe, his heart rate would drop any time I wasn't on my left side.  We prepped for a c-section - got the epidural, and I turned on my left.  And as our nurse said, if you do all the prep, it won't be needed, and she was right.  Grace started to have the accelerations that meant she was doing well and they were able to let  contractions start again. I didn't move from my left and she 'looked happy' on the monitors. Within a couple hours I was complete.  But those shivers from earlier turned out to be the start of a fever for me and before I was complete I started shaking. I have had shakes from an epidural before and terbutiline can cause bad shaking too, so I am not sure if it was the fever (101), or the epidural or the terbutiline.  Probably all three together.  I was shaking so badly I couldn't do anything to stop it.  Relaxing muscles, calm breaths, distractions, nothing helped. My jaw and ribs started to ache from shaking so hard.  It was probably the hardest part of labor for me.  Contractions were miserable, especially after they started the pit and before the epidural, but at least those gave me a break in between.  It wasn't long after that it was time to push.  My regular Dr unfortunately had to leave just before the end, so another Dr in the practice delivered her, but basically all she did was catch.  I was really glad through the tense moments that my trusted Dr was there for all the important decisions. That put me at ease.  And he was really sweet to call me on the way to his meeting to apologise again for having to leave and congratulate me on the birth. 

  Two contractions, 5 minutes, 4 pushes and she shot out.  The next contraction the placenta, and it was all over. Even with the scares and the horrible shaking, it was probably the easiest delivery yet.  And then they discovered why she was having such a hard time with contractions.  She had a very short cord and it was wrapped around her foot.  With each contraction that pushed her down it pulled on the cord and was smashing it in any other position than me laying on my left side.  

I was able to have a lot of the things with this birth that I haven't gotten with other births.  Charlotte got to be layed on me right away, but only for a moment as they were worried about her being early. And neither Porter nor Gabe was able to be put on me.  They cut the cord right away and then all three were been taken away to have a bottle to level their sugars.
This time, they waited for the cord to stop pulsing as I requested and Adam cut the cord.  Grace was then laid on me and I was able to hold her for a while. As with Charlotte, I was the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes.  I can't say how amazing that experience is.  They took her measurements - 6 lbs 6 ounces, 19 inches long, and her apgars - 8 & 9.  Then she was brought back to me for nursing.  I had her for a good half hour even through the shakes, which finally went away as I held her.  I had made it clear this time that I didn't want her to get a bottle to level her sugars.  They made sure to write it on everything, and honored that request.  We also delay vax, and asked that the Hep B be declined.  We have had flack for that in the past, but no one said anything and just did as we asked.

Because I had a fever when I came in and my waters had broken at home, hospital policy is to play everything safe and assume that I had a uterine infection or inflammation of some kind.  Chorioamnionitis, I think it is called, or chorio.  That automatically means a trip to the nicu for antibiotics for 48 hours while they run tests to check for infection.  They play it this safe because babies that get sick, get VERY sick, and while it is something that I didn't truly think was necessary, I agree with the better safe than sorry policy and had no problem with her being in observation for a while and making sure.  Looking back, I think it was me being ill that prompted my waters to break and the fever was from that, not anything to do with a uterine infection from my waters being broken at home.  But I would never want to have to look back and regret not taking precautions.  Her tests kept coming back good.  She did not have an infection.  I, on the other hand, was still sick.  They put me on three very strong antibiotics meant to kill any uterine infection. I was supposed to be on them for 48 hours, but after 24 hours, when they went to hang another bag, my arm started to swell up.  The iv had slipped and my bicep looked like Popeye within about 2 minutes.  I hurried out to the nurses station where they immediately stopped everything.  It was a little funny watching the nurse scramble to get the drip turned off.  She finally just yelled at it and yanked the plug out of the pole.

Because my veins had been to hard to find, they weren't looking forward to trying again and I hadn't had a fever since the day before so they decided just to monitor it and take some blood in the morning.  When they did the blood test, they knew I was still sick and ordered a fourth antibiotic (which made five including the amoxicillin I was on for the sinus infection when I went in), this time more broad spectrum.  You can believe I am taking a good pro-biotic!  But here I am on the 3rd day and not feeling any better.  Still stuffed up and can't breathe.  I might have inflammation in my sinuses, but I am thinking it is not bacterial. 

So, the 48 hours came and went and all Grace's tests were great.  We both tested negative for Chorio. We were finally allowed to go home.  And it has been wonderful.  Porter is in love, Gabe is fascinated, and Charlotte will come around eventually. :)  It has been one hectic week, but what a great way to end it.

We really were protected every step of the way, even from procedures that would have been acceptable to get her here safely, but were undesired.  She was so excited to get here that she made a grand quick entrance. Despite being a couple days shy of 37 weeks, she was fully term and developed in every way.  I never needed to get short with any of my or her nurses because they were all amazing.  We were so well taken care of by all the staff, my dr, and the last minute dr change for delivery.  While there were tense moments, everything that could have been very difficult was made relatively easy and we have our happy family of six now.

I can't thank the people who have helped us out enough.  So many people helped and gave support through prayers, service, or presence.  We feel incredibly loved and grateful to have such wonderful people surrounding us.    I especially feel such gratitude for my husband and my amazing SIL for being there for me through the labor and delivery.  I am sure Ann saw much more of me that day than she ever thought she would ;) but she is truly my sister and I am SO grateful to have had her support there for me.  I love you!   My husband is always amazing with every birth.  I have never changed a meconium diaper because he takes over all the diaper changes for the first week and makes sure he does any little thing that can make my recovery easier.  He is amazing.  He made sure to run any errand he could think I might need this week before he had to leave for work.  I can't say enough good about my thoughtful, tender, amazing husband.  I am so lucky and blessed to have him for eternity.  He is the best father I know and I love watching him with our babies.  There is nothing like the love in a father's eyes for his children.  It is a constant reminder of how much our Father in Heaven loves us. We can feel such intense love for our children here on earth, how much more must He feel for us.

Welcome to our family Grace Cole Sampson. 6 pounds, 6 ounces, 19 inches long.

 Interesting note.  They had a hard time finding her veins too.  I think Adam said he stopped counting after the 7th attempt.  She didn't make a sound.  But when they washed her hair, she screamed bloody murder.   I hope she stays just as strong in the future, but doesn't scream every time I try to wash her hair.  lol

I wish I had a picture of her grinning in her sleep.  She does it all the time and it's adorable.  For now, here are some of her first photos.