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Monday, March 26, 2012

A Birth Story

My daughter is now 5 days old and I have managed to figure out how to get both my hands free so I can take an opportunity to write her birth story as I’ve been wanting to do since she was born. Rayna Katya Maria Rostek entered the world on Saturday March 17th 2012 at 4:32 AM, but as Ryan puts it, her arrival was not without a bit of drama.

We knew that Rayna’s arrival was imminent in the wee hours of Friday morning, when my water broke at 1AM. Ryan frantically packed his hospital bag as I showered and off we were to be assessed at the hospital. With no contractions the nurse sent us home after confirming that baby sounded healthy. We were instructed to get some rest and return in the morning for further assessment and possibly induction. I was excited at the possibility that Rayna may be born on her cousin, Rachael’s, birthday! When we returned to the hospital at 7:30AM my contractions were about 10-15 minutes apart and though I had been able to rest I’m not sure who would be able to sleep through contractions even at 15 minutes apart. With our arrival at the hospital we were informed that March 16 was a busy day at Chilliwack hospital maternity ward and I would not be induced until further notice or at the very latest on Saturday morning. Also, my doctor happily examined me to confirm my water had broken (when a woman who has never had her water break before knows without a doubt that her water has broken, you would think confirmation would not be required, but protocol is protocol). He subsequently informed me that as of 4PM he was on vacation, told me that I would do great, and let me know that his former resident, whom I saw a few times in the office, would be covering for him. So back home to wait for my contractions to either get regular or for the hospital to call.

At this point I was very uncomfortable, but I would not really say I was in too much pain. I wanted labour to progess and there are all the stories of walking or jumping or physical activity to get labour going; but, I was in no mood for any sort of physical activity other than showering and having Ryan hold me as I sat through contractions. To help pass time Ryan and I pulled out Tribond and Ryan implemented the rule that when I lost my turn I had to walk around the table. I tell you that walk around our dining room table felt as strenuous as any bodyrock interval work-out I’ve done!

Finally I received a call from the hospital that Dr. Loch wanted to assess me at 7 PM. Since Dr. Loch is a brand new family doctor and with my previous experience with her, I knew that she would be a bit more conservative and probably push to have me induced sooner rather than later. I was correct and there was a bit of tension as the nurses were informing her that they could not handle another induction and she was really wanting to get me induced. However, by the time I was examined (4 cm dilated) and pumped with 1 liter of saline since I was a bit dehydrated, my contractions started to get more regular and I was far enough into active labour to be admitted. From here my true labour began. I understand the importance of monitoring baby’s heart rate, but I tell you I sure did not care to be forced on my back with monitors strapped to me while enduring a contraction. I much preferred to be sitting and later into my labour I spent much time kneeling leaning against an inclined bed. I’m not sure at what point I decided that labour really hurt, but it was then that I asked for drugs. I was given my first dose of Fentanyl just before Dr. Loch returned at 1:30. Now I really don’t know what it would have felt like without the Fentanyl, but thank goodness for drugs since labour felt barely tolerable with the Fentanyl! I felt really light headed and dopey between contractions and Dr. Loch looked a little worried as I was getting the first rush of Fentanyl.

Let me tell you a few thoughts that went through my mind as the pain of labour really set in. Firstly, having a focal point during labour? Seriously? I wanted to focus on Hawaii, the waves crashing and the tranquility so we had a piano spa track with waves playing through out my labour. Now the music was nice to soften the feel of the institutional hospital, however, there was no way I could even bring my mind to a place of thinking about Hawaii. I was in a place that was the furthest thing from Hawaii. It really hurt! Furthermore, in my yoga DVD part of their mantra at the end is to thank yourself and your baby for a great workout in preparing for an amazing birth. I thought numerous times to myself, this is NOT an amazing birth! In addition, there were moments when I kept thinking of when Rayna was breech and there was discussion of a c-section and I just really didn’t want a c-section. Well, in these moments of labour I was thinking that it would have been real nice to have had a c-section.

“More Fentanyl, please.” I asked the nurse. She had to check me again and at that point I was 8 cm dilated. Seriously 2 cms left to go??? I suppose those 2 cms were the worst; the pressure begins on the bowels and you’re not supposed to push and I kept saying through my contractions, I really want to push, hoping the nurse would just reply, Ok let’s get you pushing! Ryan says I was less vocal than he thought I would be, but I thought I had many grunts and painful moans and even found myself saying “ow”. Understatement. Finally, I informed Ryan who informed the nurse that I was ready to push. I’m not sure I felt that much different than for the previous amount of time, but I was through with just taking the pain and ready to do something. Thank goodness I was 10cm dilated.

Onto my back to assume the position of pushing. I didn’t realize the practice it took to get the hang of pushing, but then I got it and my labour became the athletic endeavor I had anticipated. I must say that pushing was the absolute best part of labour and I did not really find it painful; however, as soon as I started pushing my contractions slowed as did my progress. The drama began here. I was given some oxytocin at some point to bring on more contractions. Dr. Loch called in the obstetrician at the 2 hour mark. His assessment (and let me tell you it is not very fun having someone assess the baby’s position internally at this point!) was that things were not progressing fast enough and a c-section was warranted. He asked me if I wanted to keep pushing, I gave a big absolute ‘Yes’. I did not go through all that to end in a c-section! So he gave me 10 minutes to see how my progress would go. The nurse was fabulous and got me on the toilet for a few pushes to try and speed things up. Then at the 10 minute mark, the obstetrician called in the c-section team, Ryan and I signed off on the surgery and removed my jewelry in resigned preparation. Thank goodness for the wee hours of the morning. The obstetrician gave me the okay to keep pushing until the team got there and if I beat them then I would "win". Well I pushed with all my might and as she really engaged it became so awkward feeling that I just wanted to get her out. The team arrived and at this point the obstetrician noted that I had made enough progress, but would need an episiotomy to get her out promptly. He was ready to cut me with my next push and it was with that push that out came Rayna, no episiotomy required!

I can’t tell you the pride I felt at the end of all that! I was proud of my ability to have my daughter naturally, that I was able to bring her into the world with my might and determination. And here she was a beautiful baby girl on my chest! I could barely keep my eyes open (in fact I had almost been nodding off between contractions during pushing) but I was loving every moment! And there inside and just outside my room was a whole host of physicians. My family doctor, the family doctor resident, the obstetrician, the anesthesiologist, the pediatrician and the pediatrician’s resident! Rayna arrived with fanfare!

Rayna is a beautiful girl. She has taken a part of my heart. I cannot believe how much I just want her to stay tiny and precious. I usually shy away from holding infants and here I have my own and I don’t want her to grow. At times I cannot believe she is mine, she is ours; but, she is and what a precious gift. Thank you God for our Rayna, for our song of the Lord. We praise you for this incredible gift. Take her, protect her, grow her into a beautiful young woman.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Savoring the 9th Month

This is my journal entry from a week ago that I wanted to blog to capture my thoughts of labour/delivery and parenthood, before they become realities. Really how can I know what to expect? So I wanted to write down my thoughts so I can reflect on them after the fact. I invite you to share in them with me and we can reflect together in a few weeks time (and maybe laugh at my naivety) with a little more experience to guide my thoughts.

Can I savour this moment? It’s been a grey winter. We haven’t left Chilliwack area since Christmas. We have an impending major life change approaching in a time line that I can’t control, nor precisely define. I’ve had a busy, but very productive and pleasant work week. And now I sit here with my laptop, with this blank work document ready to have words scattered on its page and I am excited to write and I am excited that I am excited to write. The sun is shining and today I am going to go conquer Teapot hill at 8 months pregnant and I feel healthy and my baby feels well within me. I have less than 2 weeks left of work before I embark fully mind, body, soul into this new endeavor of challenging parenthood. I come from employment where I feel accomplished and where the remuneration is considerable to a vocation where I have no idea how I will fare with the certain challenges and where the hours are long and there is no punch clock and where financial benefits do not exist.

Can I savour being here, by myself, empowered by the Holy Spirit living within me and having a quiet moment to let Him fortify me with calm and excitement all in one time of reflection. People tell me at work to enjoy these days, because “boy, life will change soon.” And the look in their faces give these words as cautions for what’s ahead. And I do not rush the future, but at the same I do not fear, nor do I dread some of the changes. However, in this moment I am thankful for my uninterrupted quiet and think that perhaps I could develop myself as a writer in these next months. That I could carve out time to escape the wild life of being mom, to sit in a moment and think and put those thoughts onto a page that will last. That I can be open in sharing my life in the way that makes me feel so real and so enriched. Can I mention it again, that I love to write and I love to love to write. What I mean is that when I have thoughts that I want to share and they formulate themselves into words that I can put on paper, well it makes me feel so satisfied. I can savor these words and I can reread and re-experience these words. So here I am in that place and I thank you for joining me here and for sharing in these moments and in these words. Isn’t life just too rich to not want to capture it somehow?

I am excited in these moments! While I look forward to being more limber and being able to walk briskly (never mind run) without clenching my pelvic floor so I don’t feel like I’ll pee myself at any moment, I am also savoring these last moments of pregnancy. I tell people I really feel quite great and it is true! My body is being good to me and that foot that presses out from my belly is so unreal; that foot belong to my child whom I’ll get to meet in a few brief weeks. Physically, pregnancy is a crazy phenomenon. Stop and think: there is a child growing inside of me! The human body is amazing. While I embrace my spiritual existence, I welcome being human, being a physical being. I thank God for the health He has given me that I am able to move my body and stretch it and in this pregnancy that I am able to be part of a physical miracle that is so commonplace we perhaps, fail to stop and think enough about how incredible it is.

In this last month of pregnancy, my feet are starting to swell, my hands go numb just sitting, my belly makes me less agile, my hips ache at times. But I am doubly alive! I love my walks and I love my prenatal yoga. Because it has grown so gradually, my belly doesn’t even seem that big to me. I look in the mirror and picture where my abs once lied and then I realize ‘my goodness look at me’! Now I know that part of how my pregnancy is progressing so well is simply luck, genetics, just the way this pregnancy is. But I am embracing being as healthy as possible in this pregnancy. It was good to keep running through the beginning half of the pregnancy, pushing through the incredible 1st trimester fatigue. It was good to go hiking, to explore Kauai on foot, on kayak. It’s been great to keep limber with my prenatal yoga. It was good to go to the gym and modify my once intense work-outs to maximize what I could do. It is lovely to enjoy walks with Ryan and by myself along the Vedder trail. Physically, I feel as ready as one could possibly be for labour and delivery. In many ways I look forward to this physical challenge and accomplishment (hence really not wanting a c-section). I say “bring it on!” I’ve run a half marathon, but I have never given birth to a child; that will be my marathon (and Ryan will be my ‘running’ partner)! No pain, no gain! So I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I expect endorphins to kick in. When I run, I run 10 minutes and walk 1 minute. So my contractions will be my run interval and my break will be my walk interval. At about Km 10 in the half marathon, I knew I could do it, but there is still a lot of road left ahead. I imagine labour will be like that too; so much pain and in the beginning so much time ahead. But I want to press on, knowing Ryan’s right there beside me, ready for the endorphins to kick in when I hit KM 19 and only have 2 KM to go and my legs are tired, and the pain will get even more intense, but the goal is just ahead. In a way, I just can’t wait for labour. Let’s do this thing! (And I pray that God would allow a smooth delivery with respect to aspects out of my control such as baby’s positioning and baby’s progression through the birth canal and baby’s general health during labour and delivery.)

So here I am in these last weeks in a ‘funny’ state. I don’t mind being pregnant, I’m really not that uncomfortable. I have some moments of quiet which will soon require much more effort to obtain. Ryan and I can sleep in on days off. I can arrange my schedule. But I am ‘ready’ for this next challenge.

I cannot speak of this next challenge without discussing my current thoughts on impending parenthood. I suppose I have a similar philosophy to labor and delivery. Really you can only be so ready, and so I feel as ready as I will ever be and therefore, let’s just do this thing and see how we do! (Yesterday, I had a mini-epiphany. Well perhaps that’s too dramatic a statement. But, you see I’ve been really not wanting to deal with grumpy people at work lately. The irrational people. The people who have a mandate to make life miserable for everyone. I realized yesterday, that though I have only 2 weeks of work left, 2 weeks of potential encounters with ‘grumpies’ that I am responsible to deal with, there is life ahead of potential ‘grumpies’ living in my OWN home! So let me just consider that dealing with grumpy people is a life skill well worth having.)

After going through our prenatal class together, I think this little bundle growing inside of me is going to capture our hearts in a way we cannot predict. Neither of us are newborn fanatics, but I think we will think she is adorable whether she has a squishy head or baby acne etc. We love her already. We call her by name. We desire life’s best for her. Becoming a parent makes me think of what I want to teach our child. I love to teach and I am so thankful for all the formal and informal education I have been granted. I can only feel that through the differences in Ryan and me, our daughter will have a solid foundation to thrive in life and I cannot wait to start learning from her as well.

After all this writing, I just can’t wait to meet you baby girl and announce your arrival to this world!