Birth Story: Ephraim Brydon

{planned birth center birth turned hospital transfer and cesarean} January 21, 2011

It’s hard to imagine now how slow time passed the few weeks before you were born. I sat with nothing to do wondering when you were going to come, wishing it was now. A true test of my patience, I wandered around the house with nothing to do – no work, no school, no housework (since I had already done it all). I was, needless to say, bored out of my mind and trying everything to keep from feeling anxious. But the days continued to pass and you were still nestled inside me, I hope enjoying your last moments of pure happiness. I really wanted you to come early, partly due to just being so dang uncomfortable and another part because I felt a time crunch, knowing every day you stayed in there was one less day I had with you before I had to start back to school. It seems trivial now that you are here but it is still something that I am coming to terms with.

So anyways, it was the Thursday before you were born and I was sitting at home probably watching TV and eating and your father called early from work and told me that his shop had closed and everyone was being laid off. Unfortunately, this didn’t come as too much of a surprise to me, and Christopher’s high spirits about another job opening kept me from stressing out. In all honesty, I was glad to know that I would have him home all the following week. On the other hand, this also put pressure on me to have you as soon as possible so that Chris’s days home would not be “wasted.” You had other plans though, honestly I think you were waiting for all the stars to be aligned (one of the many reasons we decided on Ephraim instead of Emmit). You see, because of Chris’s job situation, we were very tight on money – well, to be honest, we had none. We had been living on scraps of cash for the past 3 weeks and were waiting on a settlement to get us through the rest of the month. God is amazing and it is so awesome to see how he works everything out in the end. So the next day after being laid off, we finally received our settlement check, but not without a hitch – we had to wait the weekend, the holiday, and the hold time before any of it would be available – meaning Wednesday. In addition, my father had not made it to Florida yet. He was leaving Friday and had plans to be here early the next week. So I waited anxiously – I really wanted you to come during the weekend and with all the phone calls and texts I was getting daily, it was hard to put your arrival out of my mind. But as I said, you had other plans….

It was Wednesday afternoon and my father knocked on the door, happy I hope to be able to still see me pregnant, we spent the afternoon chatting and hanging out. That night we decided to celebrate having money again and my father making it into town by going to Thai Wasabi for sushi! I had been craving Thai and sushi for months but didn’t want to splurge with money we didn’t have. As the night came to an end, I had gotten a phone call from Sunshine in which she expressed she had a feeling it was going to happen soon. I had also received a text from Amber saying it was going to be a full moon and that it was common for babies to come on a full moon, she also suggested that I take a walk in the moonlight and gather strength from its energy. Avery had also had a dream the night before that he had met you and was so thrilled to have seen you in such detail. So as the stars began to align, I tried to gear myself up for what was to come.  After getting back from sushi, we took Amber’s advice and went for a walk. It was a cool night and as we walked toward the horses with pretzels and carrots, I tried to focus positive peaceful energy and thoughts toward labor and you. I finally felt at peace about your coming and didn’t feel on a time limit.

With this feeling of completion I went to bed for the last time without you. It was only a few hours after falling asleep that I woke. It was 1am and I was off to the first of my many nightly trips to the bathroom but found instead what I assumed was my bag had broken but had only leaked a little (and apparently sealed back up) so with no contractions I went back to bed. It wasn’t easy to sleep after this but I tried, restless and anxious for the events to come. I talked myself into sleeping so I would have the energy I would need. By 6am I told Chris that I thought my water had broken but that I was not feeling any contractions and had only just started to feel menstrual-like cramping. I then also texted my Mom, Sunshine, and Amber to give them the heads up. I called the midwife next and told her that nothing was happening yet but that I thought my bag had broken – she advised me to continue my pelvic rocks and walk but if nothing continued to happen by noon that I would need to come in. So we got up and I started off on what would prove to be the longest “day” I’ve ever had. After five hours on my hands and knees and no progression, we called the midwife again who said we should come in right away so she could check us and make sure my water had indeed broken. At this time Sunshine was only minutes away with her boys and we waited so that she could come with us and my dad watch the boys.

On the way to the Birthing Center, it was all light-hearted chatter. I wasn’t in pain, actually I felt wonderful but was definitely getting anxious about things happening. Once at the Center, the midwife confirmed my water had broken. She said that because it had been 12 hours since, we would have to start an IV for antibiotic treatment in 8 hours with or without significant progression. She then sent us home with some herbs, castor oil, and other exercise advice. So on our way back home we picked up the castor oil with some root beer and stopped at Panera for lunch. With our tummies full and with new hope, we made our last trip home as just a couple.

Ok so now is where the fun really begins… So we get home and I go for the Castor oil, of course everyone wants to watch cause seriously I’m about to down a quarter cup of oil!!!! Not so bad when washed down with Root Beer…  then we’re off for a walk, it’s about 2pm now and while I’m feeling more and more ready, nothing else has changed. So we called the acupuncturist suggested by the midwife and by about 4 I was getting poked, for the first time I might add, with needles (did I mention I really dislike needles???). But it’s amazing! The acupuncture starts my contractions almost immediately and I am told they are pretty close together but they don’t seem to be that painful, I am just breathing through them while Chris holds my hand and encourages me. After she does some electro stimulation, we head off back to the Center, I think it is about 6pm at this point, and the contractions are coming steady. Once at the Center we get settled in, I get my IV put in (more needles!) and we start focusing on getting the contractions coming stronger and closer. And we keep working, and we keep working.

Twelve comes quickly, oddly time seems to be moving fast but the process seems likes it’s in slow motion. Time for another dose of antibiotics and another check up. I am not dilated but maybe 2cm but I’m almost totally effaced. So the midwife tries to manually stretch my cervix. Can I tell you this is the worst pain I have ever felt (contractions are nothing after this)… she gets me to stretch a little and we go back to focusing on the contractions. At this point apparently my family has arrived, originally there was only supposed to be my mom, Sunshine, Chris and possibly my dad and Amber but circumstances arise and because it was late and everyone was sleeping it didn’t put too much extra pressure on me (and my family is very understanding…). And so we labor some more… I have a wonderful support team and Christopher continues to encourage me through my exhaustion.

By 4 am I am sleeping between my 2 minute contractions. I am so tired. Everyone else besides Chris is catching some shut eye here and there. By 6am my contractions start slowing down, we tried going for a walk but to no avail. After a shower and another walk, where we got caught in the rain, the contractions basically stopped. So I took the opportunity to sleep for an hour, my first real rest in over 24 hours (might I add Chris still hasn’t slept). After I woke up we sent everyone away to have breakfast giving Chris and me some time without pressure and alone. We then also called back the acupuncturist who came by right away. I then found myself sitting on a ball resting my head on the bed with an IV in my arm and needles sticking out of me everywhere! Oh joy! (sadly I was getting used to it by now).

Again the acupuncture worked miracles and my contractions started at a normal steady and productive pace, unlike the rest of my labor which had been sporadic and, obviously, unproductive. I continued contracting all day, they were getting more intense and closer together and so the midwife broke my water again. I still hadn’t dilated much more though and I think it was around 3 or 4 pm that the midwife for the 4th time manually stretched my cervix. It was still just as painful and I was beyond tired at this point but I had reached about 5 cm. After stretching my cervix, the midwife routinely checked my and your vitals.

It was at this point that my long but peaceful labor turned topsy turvy. When checking the your  heart beat, the midwife noticed your heart rate had dropped to about 50 and while monitoring it took about 2 minutes for it to return back to normal. So the midwife called an ambulance and put me on oxygen. At this point I was trying hard not to panic. Not positive what exactly was going on or what was to come, I went with the flow and tried to stay calm. The ambulance came almost immediately and I found myself being picked up by at least 6 men and put on a gurney. After a 5 minute bumpy ride to the hospital, I continued to stay light hearted and peaceful and my contractions continued to be strong and 2 minutes apart. As they brought me into my delivery room, I was swamped with over 5 nurses, actually I have no clue, but there were a ton of people hooking me to things, poking me, and by the way putting in a new IV in, since they didn’t like the other one… now hooked up to pitocin, antibiotics, and heart and contraction monitors.

I was upset and frustrated that I couldn’t move around and that I was at the hospital. The Doctor came in said he would be back in a few hours, after a surgery, to check my progress. Those few hours went quickly and it was before we knew it that the Doctor was back to check me. He wasn’t the gentlest of Doctors, actually he was very rough and didn’t even wait for me to stop contracting. I don’t know if it was because we had come from the birthing center or because that’s just how he was but he was not very kind in our situation. He then said that his recommendation was for us to have a c-section. Obviously we were not very fond of this idea and told the Doctor we would like to discuss it, which he did not like very much. After coming back in, we told him we would like a few more hours. I had dilated to 7 cm in just the short time I had been at the hospital and felt like if I had just a little more time that I could get to the point of pushing. We said that we understood there were risks of infection with it being 40 hours since my water had initially broken and we would go for the c-section if after those few hours we had no significant progress. He did not like this at all! He got very heated and with Chris on my right side and the Doctor on my left they continued to argue through my contractions. Chris kept telling the Doctor to wait as he helped me through my contraction but the Doctor took no notice and continued talking. After not budging, the Doctor just left the room leaving us in the room with the head OB and me confused, frustrated, scared, and tired.

I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know if I was being selfish and chancing your life. In some ways, I wanted to just give in and give up and in others I wanted the birth I had planned for. It was at this moment that the midwife stepped over and adjusted my belly monitors because she couldn’t hear very well and panic again struck out as your heart rate was dropping again now to the high 20s. From here, the rest is history. With a mad rush of people running into the room, I was turned over, unhooked and quickly wheeled out of the room. I was scared yet felt like I was outside of my body. Chris tried to be comforting and tell me he was right here, even though he couldn’t go with me, but I was so overwhelmed all I could say was “I know, I know.” Being wheeled down the hall and into the room, I tried to get someone, anyone, to tell me what was going on. Finally, after screaming a demand to be answered, someone explained briefly what was going to happen. But already past my breaking point, I had had enough and as I was being poked, prodded, and basically feeling violated, I began yelling that it hurt and to stop.

Finally someone told me that breathing and not yelling would be better. Thinking back now I can only laugh. What the many people in the room must have thought, how if not for your life I would have loved to smack and kick just one of them 😉 but I didn’t and as they counted down, I quickly faded away. The next thing I know, I am in a room half dazed with Chris by my side. It takes me a minute to realize there should be a baby somewhere and I ask where you are. Chris points to you just next to me and I try to reach you. Now apparently this whole sequence of events lasted over an hour although it only felt like 20 minutes for me. It was almost 9 pm by this time and as I slowly came to, I finally was able to ask to hold you. Chris put you on my chest and in my dazed and confused state I awkwardly tried to nurse you, but this only frustrated you and you began to cry (Chris says this is when I finally really woke up). It was at this point that the nurse in the room said that we could move to our room now and they wheeled us out into the hall where all my family was. Everyone came out and said hello and then they continued to wheel us to our room. There we were finally able to get settled in and enjoy the new life we had created and after over 50 hours of being awake, we finally went to sleep. As I remember the events of those two days, it amazes me the energy I had and the love and support that surrounded me. I can’t imagine having the strength or courage to last that long without Christopher there to guide me and love on me. He truly was an amazing man that day and as I looked at him that night, it’s indescribable the love I saw under his extremely tired eyes. And while I am disappointed that I was not able to see you in your first seconds of life or hold you close to me as you made the transition into this world, I am happy to have a healthy child in my arms today and look forward to the next time where I can try for the birth I would like again.

My Ephraim Brydon Dodson. Born January 21, 2011 at 6:40pm at 8 lbs 14 oz and 21.25 inches long. An amazing blessing who is transforming our lives every day.

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