Friday, September 27, 2013

Teresa is Here!

*****This is a long post. I write it really for myself, so that I don't forget the details of Teresa's arrival. But of course, I share it for anyone who wants to read.*****

About one week ago, on Thursday the 19th, there was a big, beautiful, full harvest moon. I had noted this on my calendar at least a month prior, hoping that the old wives' tale may be true and that the pull of the full moon would put me into labor before my due date on the 22nd.

On that Thursday, I had a doctor's appointment at 6pm. I didn't even want to go. I had just been one week before and doubted the necessity of such regular appointments or that there would be any update. Joshua had been delivered by cesarean and both Noah and Veronica by VBAC, both of which were very long labors. Despite having had contractions on most nights last week, I really didn't believe that any real progress had been made. They were all irregular and as this was my fourth pregnancy, I definitely knew the difference between these practice rounds and the real deal.

Well, I was sure surprised at the appointment when my doctor told me that I was 2 cm dilated! Those contractions had actually done a little something and I would be going into labor with a jump start and 20% done with dilating! That WAS good news.

At home that evening, I made sure to eat a substantial dinner of meatloaf and a baked potato in case it would be my last meal before labor. During dinner, contractions began to become more regular and intense, about every 5-10 min apart. I called Damian to let him know that we may be bringing the children to his house sometime that night. We put the children to bed wondering if we would be waking them again soon.

I paced around the living room, in our kitchen and on our deck, watching the pregnant moon rise in the eastern sky. The question arose again and again--Is it time? Should we go to the hospital?

Thankfully, more wisdom has been gained with each pregnancy. When pregnant with Veronica, I went to the hospital too early and was sent home for the night until things were much further along the next day. I did not want to go through that disappointment and frustration again. While I was most definitely in pain with each contraction, I was able to breathe and walk through them and could recall how bad they got during my labor with Veronica. We weren't there yet. Sleeping in my own bed and getting as much rest as I could seemed like the best option. But if this had been my first pregnancy, we most definitely would have gone to the hospital at this point.

Contractions continued through the night.

The next morning things had slowed down, which was frustrating. I walked throughout the house to try and move things along. I watched that same full moon setting now in the beautiful western morning sky. As the day went on, labor began to progress more and more. I felt exhausted. I tried to nap. I tried to eat. I waited and waited until about 2pm when I knew that the time to go to the hospital was near. My mom came to pick up the children and deliver them to Damian and Kristal's.

Thank goodness! Shortly after, I was vomiting and had begun a much more intense part of labor, moaning and crying through each contraction. The time had come. We arrived at the hospital at about 3pm.

Despite the intensity of the contractions, I was still worried that we would be sent back home from the hospital. But as we arrived, I became reassured that this was the real thing. A young girl in the parking lot watched me with large, alarmed eyes as I worked through the horror of another contraction. Upon seeing me, the man at the reception desk immediately put me into a wheelchair and escorted us to the maternity ward. The charge nurse took one look at me and immediately and frantically began trying to open up a room for me, apologizing the entire time that I had to wait. Apparently, the full moon myth is no myth or old wives' tale at all. Every room was full and my doctor and nurses confirmed that with every full moon, this is the case.

I was given some fentanyl through an IV for the pain, while I waited for the glorious anesthesiologist to arrive. My cervix was checked and I was at 4 cm. Woo-hoo! Two more out of the way! The baby was facing forward rather than backward, making for possibly more difficult pushing later if the baby didn't turn. I laid onto my right side to try and encourage the baby to turn the easier direction. About an hour later, my magnificent epidural was administered and all became right with the world again.

In the mean time, Jason had called my mom and Jenny and they arrived a little after we did. This is absolutely the most attentive birth team you could ask for. How loved and supported I felt as each of them talked with me, encouraged me, made me laugh to tears while in labor, played with my hair, put a cold cloth to my head and waited with me for this new life to enter the world. A while later, my dad also arrived and the room was even more full with love and support. How blessed I am and how blessed the children are who are born into a room so full of people who already love them.

Also, the nursing staff at Swedish Edmonds was phenomenal. First of all, I had two nurses to choose from when we arrived. The first was Rachel. Rachel had actually been my nurse when Veronica was born. I had very fond memories of her. She was my nurse when I had arrived 2 1/2 years ago. Her shift then ended and I was assigned a different nurse. When she came back the next day, I was still in labor and was assigned her again and she was with me through the birth. I remember her telling us how special and joyful Veronica's birth had been and how it had even brought her to tears. 2 1/2 years later, she actually recognized us and our name when we arrived, remembered Veronica's birth and came into see us.

The second nurse was Marie, who I had been assigned as soon as I was admitted. She had been taking such wonderful, sweet care of me. Rachel was only going to be there for part of the evening while Marie would be there for the whole night. While I was so happy to see Rachel again, I was ready for a long labor and wanted to switch nurses as little as possible. So I chose Marie.

My water broke at about 3:50 pm. Marie told us that there was some meconium in the amniotic fluid, raising a small concern at birth that the baby could aspirate some of it.

My cervix was checked at about 4:20 and I was at 5 cm. I was happy with this progress and prepared for the baby to arrive sometime the next day on Saturday or perhaps even Sunday. As I mentioned, I had experienced such long labors before and was ready for that again.

My epidural was really only working on one side of my body, making my left leg heavy and unable to move while my right leg was a little tingly, but able to move just fine. This also meant that while I felt nothing on my left side, the contractions were becoming more and more painful on my right. This same thing had happened with Noah and Veronica, making me wonder if it has something to do with the shape of my spine. I was about to have my epidural redone, but after raising the dose a couple of times, it finally began to be effective on my right side as well.

A little after 7:30 that night, my cervix was checked again. Rachel had come by just before to say goodbye and good luck as her shift had ended. I thought I would maybe be at 6 or 7 cm, but really would not have been surprised if I was just at 5 1/2 cm. As I was checked, Marie gave me a big smile.

"What?" I asked.

"You're at 10! You're ready to push!"

This was an absolute shock! We had been at the hospital for a mere 4 1/2 hours!

Before Marie actually called the doctor, she called the front desk to have them let Rachel know before she left that I was ready to deliver. Rachel actually stayed after her shift to come and help again with my delivery!

The doctor arrived and confirmed that I was at 10 cm, but he was conflicted. He had another patient who had been sent over from the emergency room and needed his care very soon. I described my other births and how I usually pushed for about 45 min to an hour before the baby arrived and told him that I wasn't feeling any pressure. He decided to have me go ahead and try to push while he was still there and to see what happened.

My parents and Jenny had been outside the room as they checked my cervix. They watched as the doctor, pediatrician and nurses entered my room. Finally, mom decided they were coming back in. Thank goodness they did!

I pushed once for a few seconds and was told, "Stop! Stop! The baby's coming!"

Again, I was shocked! Marie had joked that with all of the laughter in our room, I might laugh the baby out, not knowing how close to the truth that may have been!

I pushed one more time for about 20 seconds. I was able to place my hand on the baby's head and feel them leave my body and enter the world, a strange and absolutely amazing feeling.

At 8:02 pm, the baby was born. That was the biggest shock of all. In less than thirty minutes, I found out that I was surprisingly at 10 cm and ready to push. Then I pushed for what seemed a moment and the baby was born! That was it! It was over!  It all seemed so surreal and so sudden and I could hardly believe it had happened. I'm not sure if I cried or not. Mostly, I just laid there in disbelief.

I waited for what seemed a long time but was probably only about 10 seconds, before I heard the doctor announce, "It's a girl!" A few moments later, I was handed our new daughter, Teresa Miriam Burdullis.

I laid there in awe and wonder as I gazed at this new person. After waiting, often impatiently, for an entire nine months for this moment, I could hardly believe it now that she was here.

A little while later, she was weighed in at 8 lb 2 oz. Recall also that she was born at 8:02 pm. Add to that that my birthday is 8-2, that I was also 8 lb 2 oz. and born in Room #82. Make of that what you will.

That was all a week ago today. Time is so strange. How can that seem like just a moment ago, yet at the same time it seem like Teresa has always been here? How can our whole family be catapulted into a big adjustment, but at the same time it seem as natural as can be? How can one's heart feel so full and yet grow even more with each child? Such are the mysteries and blessings of motherhood :)

Our hearts and prayers are filled with gratitude as we watch our family continue to grow.

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