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My Type A Journey to a C – A Birth Story

15 May

Good morning friends! Happy Weekend!!! 

Oh my goodness, this is my first Saturday morning waking up as a mom. Yes. A mom!!!! My heart is melting as I type this on my phone while simultaneously staring at my beautiful daughter all swaddled up and dozing off. I am spellbound by her every movement, face, sound, gesture…

And then it hits me. The sudden reality that I am a mother. Proof that being type A doesn’t mean much as far as game planing goes. Trying to get pregnant at precisely the right time (yeah right), trying to arrange when the baby comes, crafting a birth plan(s)…With planning I’ve learned that something will happen making a muck of your neatly arranged, tailor-made itinerary. (I didn’t have a birth plan but I’m still bemused over my birth story.)

This whole “embracing motherhood” thing started in August 2015. But motherhood materializing into something other than a hashtag on Insta got real on Tuesday, May 10th. 

On May 10th I went to my routine weekly pregnancy checkup. This was the 39th week appointment! The doctor and I discussed how I was feeling and talked about dates for a scheduled induction in case baby girl didn’t debut Sunday, May 15th. 

On my way to my next appointment at Maternal & Fetal Medicine I phoned Andy. I was stoked to tell him that if baby girl doesn’t come on her own they plan on inducing me Wednesday, May 18th. I shared the news in a quick flash as the next set of doctors whisked me away and hooked me up to the non-stress machine.

After 40 minutes of what is typically a 20 minute monitoring session of baby’s heartbeat  and movement I was escorted to the sonography room. This was after the intermittent intervals of nurses coming in and asking me to drink orange juice topped with what felt like aggressive poking of my belly. *Side Note: I visited Maternal & Fetal Medicine weekly due to baby girl’s risk for SGA (small for gestational age). Nothing was ever too alarming. Images and testing always revealed that my amniotic fluid levels were perfect, baby girl was measuring petite but proportionate in the 12th percentile, and her heart rate was top notch. Except on Tuesday, May 10th, something was off kilter. 

When the sonographer wrapped up she told me she’d be back after she shared the images with the doctor. This is normal. Fast forward 10 anxious minutes and the dapper Dr. Akoma greeted me. She was beaming. My panic had immediately frittered away.

Dr. Akoma, again, beaming, had bright eyes with a sparkle. I was admiring her composure. She made me feel settled. Worry-free.

She spoke. “Looks like you’re having a baby!” 

Me: “I know!” In a pitch like a 5-year discovering she’s going to Disneyland.

Dr. Akoma: “Well alright, let’s get you induced!”

Me: “Oh, yes. I am scheduled for Wednesday, May 18th.

Dr. Akoma: “No, dear. You’re going to be induced today. Your baby, although her heart rate is great, she isn’t moving like she should and you don’t feel her enough to reassure us that your pregnancy should continue. At 39 weeks she is term. She is ready. Are you ready? Call your husband and tell him to get here. Your room is being prepped.”

Me: “Oh my gosh, okay. Is she okay? Oh wow, so we are doing this. Today? I get to meet my baby girl?! What do you mean my room is getting prepped? I have to wrap up work. I mean I don’t have to but there are things I need to do. Can I go home and get my hospital bag? ” My furor was extraordinary muffling my speech. Dr. Akoma was probably unable to make a thing out or thought I was delirious.

Regardless, I was about to have a baby!!!! 

I called Andy. “We’re being induced, TODAY!!!” This communication string was priceless. Emotional. Exciting. Inexplicable. It was an exchange of words and enthusiastic cries that will be forever etched in my heart. A private dialogue between two parents-to-be preparing for the best day of their lives.

I was accompanied by a lovely nurse who gave me red carpet treatment all the way to the labor and delivery wing. The experience was surreal. Not at all as I had envisioned. 

Labor and delivery. 

Wow.

Fast-forward a few hours. It was 3:30p. I was intoxicated by my emotions and the realness of “having a baby!” I laughed a bit, too. I was anxious. Nervous. Excited. Our lives were about to change in a matter of hours.

Side Tangent.

Me: “Babe, you know what’s wild?! I’m so happy I ran yesterday! I logged at least one run in in my 39th week of pregnancy! Whoop! Whoop! Which really means I can say I ran my whole pregnancy!”

Andy: “Val, you’re out of control. You shouldn’t have run. You’re done. You can’t run now for 6 weeks. You’re going to listen to me and the doctor.”

Me: “Yeah. I’m well aware. But seriously, I would’ve been so disappointed had I not ran yesterday.

But back to having a baby!!!

At 3:30p on May 10th I was only 70% effaced, 1cm dilated and feeling painless contractions. To begin the induction they gave me Cervidil. It is designed to ripen the cervix to 100% to begin active labor. The process using Cervidil was expected to last no more than 12 hours. 

After several hours my contractions were back to back about every two to three minutes. They were painful. Painful. Painful. I told Andy and the nurses that I wanted to shake the hands and kiss the feet of every woman out there who had a natural birth because these contractions were tempestuous! I recall thinking that I must be 100% effaced and super dilated if they hurt like they did!!! I was ready to keep them coming because each one meant we were closer to meeting our daughter.

Around 11pm three + nurses came rushing in. They were fixated on the monitoring screen. They gave off panicky vibes and were speaking quickly in a language foreign to me. Andy took one look at me and saw my fear. He grabbed my hand to comfort me. He proceeded to ask, “What’s wrong?”

After they assessed everything they informed us that our baby’s heart rate fell drastically with each contraction and it had been too low for too long. She had not yet recovered from the last few contractions.

My heart stopped. 

No tears formed but I was crying on the inside. I was scared. I tried to stay calm. Relaxed. Strong. I was everything but.

Cervidil, although a mild drug, created stronger than expected contractions for me and our baby was distressed with each one. They feared it could be due to prolapse of the umbilical cord. “If this occurs, the umbilical cord may become compressed between the fetal head and the walls of the mother’s pelvis, thereby cutting off the blood supply to the fetus. Unless a vaginal delivery is expected to occur immediately, cesarean section must be performed to save the baby’s life.” The staff couldn’t delineate which one was influencing our daughter’s low heart rate. Was it the Cervidil or prolapse of the umbilical cord? Either reason behind it, fetal distress was not good and the alternatives were looking dour.

They removed the Cervidil. 

That’s all I’m going to write on that.

Roughly an hour later I was given an epidural. Finally!!!

They exercised some caution before administering it. I didn’t give a care that I was only 1cm dilated, my body was in labor even though it appeared I was failing to progress.

Within 30 minutes of receiving the epidural my already low blood pressure plummeted. In turn, baby girl’s heart rate fell to its lowest and was not recovering timely. It was a spectacle. After careful monitoring and continued guests rushing in and out, the doctor on call came in to discuss a cesarean with me. I obliged that if it’s necessary, it’s necessary.

Then our daughter’s heart rate took a turn for the better. Yay! The cesarean was an afterthought, for the time being. But with that being the third time they flirted with it, I began to think it was highly likely.

It was finally dark in the room. The machines weren’t yelling at us anymore. We finally had some semblance of peace and quiet. It was as tranquil as it could be. It was as tranquil as it would ever be. The nurses continued to monitor me. Hours went by with faint beeps in comparison to the alarms. The conversations being held by the medical staff echoed in the room but the epidural helped me zone them out. They told me to relax because I’ll need all my energy for pushing in a few hours. I was beginning to feel reassured that we could have our daughter vaginally. I breathed deep. Looked at Andy. Smiled. 

But there was no chance to relax once they began the IV drip of Pitocin at 7a. I was surprised they were giving me this drug since it was a lot stronger than Cervidil. But who am I to question the doctor? Oriana’s heart rate was steady again at 130 and had been for a while. I didn’t feel the need to challenge them. The first of the Pitocin dosage was small and it was gradually increased.

Then there was a repeat of the noise that flooded the room a few hours prior. Alarms were ringing, medical staff  were avidly speaking in doctor-tongue, and I was being asked incessant questions about my health, allergies, fetal movement…

Our daughter was experiencing, yet again, serious fetal heart rate deceleration. I was still only 1cm-2cm dilated. The Cervidil and now the Pitocin, although they acted catalysts to make the contractions stronger, weren’t working to dilate me. 

Active labor was happening but at slow rate. Despite back to back contractions, transition aka pushing was guaranteed to be hours away. This was not good. With the fetal heart rate decelerations continuing as frequently as they were, baby girl was not getting the oxygen needed to sustain labor. Therefore, the doctors did not want to risk continuing as it would jeopardize baby’s health. In every effort to avoid an “emergency” they wanted to conduct a cesarean for immediate delivery.

They asked me how I felt about it. I had no feelings about it. I was prepared for anything in labor and delivery. My type A personality took a backseat. I did not try to govern the process of delivery. My birth plan was this —> epidural. I was prepared to be game for anything. And I was.

I knew far too well that you can’t plan for labor and delivery. I didn’t plan on being induced. I was told I was going to be induced. I didn’t plan that my body would fail to progress in labor. But my body failed to progress. When vaginal birth was no longer an option, I was already prepared for the invasive procedure better known as a c-section. I didn’t plan on a cesarean. I was told it was medically necessary. 

My type A personality accepted the substandard and dreaded C. Honestly, I would have accepted anything to ensure the health and safety of my unborn daughter.

Within minutes I was being rolled out to the operating room. It was May 11th at 11:15a. I had no time to really conceptualize what was happening. They turned Andy away to another room to change. I was there, in the mix of all these doctors, anxious inside. Crying inside. Thinking my body failed. Thinking I failed as a woman. But then something switched. I couldn’t stop thinking that I’d be holding my daughter in an hour. The crocodile tears fell down my face.

The operation was something else. To be numb but tugged around like a rag doll. Hmm. I held Andy’s hand and griped tightly. In a matter of minutes, literally, the doctor said, “Your daughter will be here in 5 minutes.” 

I turned to Andy. This was the last time I’d look at him as a man not yet a father. My eyes bigger than ever filled with tears. I was Excited. Nervous. Anxious. Already in love. I froze the moment in my memory bank. 

Then…

Doctor: “She’s got so much hair! Congratulations on a beautiful baby girl!”

May 11th, 12:04p we became parents to Oriana Yoshie Shreeve. A bundle of perfection weighing in at 6.5lbs and 19.6″.

Just like that I saw my daughter in a flash of a second while they transferred her from my abdomen to the table behind me. They took her to do the Apgar testing and invited daddy. I was left there on the table alone. I was literally paralyzed from the chest down unable to get her in my line of sight. I turned my neck as much as I could to try and catch a glimpse of her.


Tears were perpetually falling from my face. I was thinking, “I have a daughter. We have a daughter. We have a little girl!” 

My sweet fiancé transformed into a daddy. I watched him in those precious moments overwhelmed with emotions and falling in deeper love with him. This is our family now. I spent 39 weeks waiting to meet this little soul and there she was – a few arm lengths away with her daddy whom was and continues to be captivated by her.

When they finally placed her in my bed, I nuzzled her warm skin. I stared at her. I breathed her in. Life stood still. She was all I knew existed.

The way I felt in that moment was new but familiar. She is my heart. She has always been my heart. In that instant I couldn’t recollect life without her. She fills me completely. She is proof that love is not something you search for. Love isn’t something you dream for. Love is something you do. And she, our baby girl, is a result of the love between her father and me. She is the best part of us. She is our greatest gift. 

Everything in my life like the nonsense, the stress, the chaos, the opinions of others, the friends that have come and gone, the what-ifs, it all became preposterously irrelevant when I met Oriana. She obliterated it all. She has opened me. 

Today she is 3 days old. She’s sleeping peacefully near me. I catch myself staring at her in complete awe that she is mine – all mine. Staring into her eyes and seeing her fixate on me eliminates the pain from the cesarean. Her very being reminds me not to feel ashamed of my body post-cesarean. 

Of all the things I’d done wrong during my journey through life, in getting myself here tells me I’d done something right. The severe swelling (thighs, calves, ankles – entire legs), my likeness to Frankenstein with the wretched staples, the extreme discomfort, the inability to get in and out of bed without it being a 10 minute ordeal, while it doesn’t sound ideal, is something I’d do all over again. Life doesn’t need to be so complicated. Oriana has shown me how simple it all is. And it’s astounding.

I have a daughter. The amount I love her cannot be qualified. It’s all-encompassing. I don’t know who I was before her.

I welcome my new life. I may be type A but the C has taught me to accept all things. You can’t know beautiful without knowing a bit of brutal. The C was brutal. But it is a temporary state of brutal/discomfort. My scar will be a beautiful reminder of my daughter and our time together as one. Oriana is my forever. She is my blossoming soul. She is my kind of beautiful. She always will be.

I love you, Oriana. Thank you for making me a mommy.

Thanks for stopping by!

Valgal

XO

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Marathon Training – Running for Two

29 Dec

Good afternoon lovelies! I hope you’re having a wondrous Monday so far! I always love Mondays. I believe Mondays set the mood for the week – therefore, if your Monday starts off right, well then I only see smooth sailing, even if the sea gets a little rough. And what work week isn’t a little rough? What after-work hours aren’t a little rough?

 

Discussing rough, I’ll tell you what’s rough – let me introduce you to marathon training. I’ve trained for three marathons and I’ve discovered what it is about them that is rough. It’s not the aches and pains. Nah, those are manageable and kind of dull. It is the patience. There is a whole palette of patience that paints your body and mind with the dramatic hues of hope, despair, rejection, and anticipation that make the journey of the marathon rough.

 

It’s true love though.

 

Anything worth doing is going to be difficult. If it were easy it would lack the artistry of hope and the intensity of the colors of fire. The mental strength to run forward, through the hurt, through your minds rejection, through the lies, through the life you left you behind is the sum of strength that beckons anything is possible.

 

And anything is possible: Having the patience to complete a marathon has nothing on having the patience to accept your changing body so that soon you get to meet your little one.

 

What I have learned training for a marathon has inadvertently carried over to my life between the miles. But most importantly, it has found its way to help soothe me during pregnancy and its encompassing unknowns.

 

I’m quickly learning that marathon training isn’t as rough as pregnancy. What is rough during pregnancy is acceptance of your changing, growing body. I won’t lie – I have cried a few times about my body morphing into something I don’t recognize. I hate to sound vain but I’m here to be honest. I’m hypersensitive to the changes happening to my body because I’ve been training for marathon after marathon keeping my form, abs, ass, legs and arms tone. Now, well now it doesn’t matter. Baby is coming! And I wouldn’t dare do anything to harm my little one with strict eating, new eating regiments, dehydration tactics, hardcore training followed by more training. No. My abs, ass, legs and arms are getting a little less tone regardless because I’m creating a life. My waist is slowly giving way to the growing bump – this I’m excited about! But to say I accept all, emphasis on all, the changes with the gracious glow of pregnancy would be a farce because I don’t. For me, pregnancy is as beautiful and magical as it is a mental minefield. Honestly.

 

I blame the self-absorbed and self-centered culture that poisons the internet stating that basketball bellies for pregnant women, although not the norm, is what should be sought after. Seriously?  How can I control how my baby grows? I would love to have a basketball belly! But I stand all of 5’2”. That’s right a full 60 inches. Baby girl can only grow so far with my short stature and torso thus she will cause me to grow a little wide. This is the problem. Not that I’ll grow wide, but that I’m fed, like other pregnant mamas all this bullshit that if you’re short, you’ll get fat. If you’re carrying a girl, you’ll grow wide and better plan to carry an extra few lbs. Seriously. The internet feeds you bullshit and isn’t even gracious enough to offer up a glass of merlot to wash it down. Gosh I miss wine. Troll the internet and you’ll see copious amounts of literature warning pregnant moms-to-be “How to avoid gaining too much pregnancy weight”, “The skinny pregnancy”, and this should make you chuckle, “How to avoid weight gain during pregnancy.” Yes. These are real taglines. How to avoid weight gain during pregnancy…ya…that’s a winner. What the eff?

 

Anyway, what I was saying is that acceptance is rough. I don’t mind in the least bit my growing bump. I am the most ecstatic about that! To put it simply I feel sandwiched in the nonsense that comes from so many articles about pregnancy and what not to eat, what not to do, what workouts to avoid, what not to drink, etc. The nonsense paralyzes me. And consequently, I become nonsensical – like I have this innate fear that I’ll end up taking on a new shape with similarities to George Costanza – short and stumpy but with hair. I know. I know. I sound foolish but I’m being candid about my illogical concerns.

 

It is because of my illogical concerns that I take to running. Well, it’s not the only reason but running does help to silence the bullshit. Running also helps to make sure George Costanza never appears looking back at me in the mirror…hehe.

 

Anyway, let’s talk about From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby and running for two in the second trimester.

 

Today I am 20 weeks and 1 day pregnant.  I ran 5 miles today at an 8:11/pace per mile. This is slower than norm for me but hey, baby is growing! It’s beginning to feel that running for two parallels a lot with marathon training. I am forced to go slower and breathe consciously with intent. I have to focus and exercise patience for a slower than normal cadence for hours which leaves me vulnerable to boredom. I am in each moment recognizing each little twitch or discomfort and making a friend with it rather than speeding up and playing with intervals to mask the pain.

 

Little baby girl is teaching me how to run comfortably at a slower than average pace with a whole lot of added weight and pressure in my front section. I used to be able to run 26.2 miles without ever having to take a bathroom break. Running in the second trimester has me desperately seeking a bathroom after only 2.5 miles. The pressure on my bladder from running is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I have to always make a mad dash to the bathroom every 2.5 or 3 miles for relief and then the cycle starts again.

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In addition, the weight of my breasts is getting quite uncomfortable. I know I’m kind of an anomaly – having a breast augmentation or two performed while also trying to run competitively – but again, back to their weight – oy vey! During my runs I find that I’m squeezing my shoulder blades together to ensure I have proper form. It may look as if I’m running with my chest intentionally out to make them all perky  and guess what, I am – so enjoy the view (just don’t jump on the treadmill next to me or I’ll give you a caviling grimace). If I didn’t do this my shoulders would roll forward and my lower back would hurt more than it does.

 

Running in the second trimester has been an easier goal to achieve in comparison to the first trimester. I’m able to fight through the fatigue and make it to the gym. When I get into my rhythmic cadence, I find a source of great strength that helps counter the obstruction of said fatigue and twinges of dull pain.

 

The colorful palette for running for two makes me feels beautiful. It has me marvel at our bodies capabilities to do hard, rough but equally miraculous things. Running for two teaches me to have more patience than I ever knew possible despite marathon training. Running for two gives me hope that I will continue to grow as a person, and with this body and baby, into a person I want to be – a mom. I turn to running because I it helps me become a person who is better, accepting, peaceful and happy.

 

Running was never stale. Running for two proves it never will be. Running for two paints me in a florid of colors I’ve never seen before. The palette of patience paints my body and mind teaching me to love myself unconditionally while I grow this miracle within – just the thought sends an electrical current through my body. The emotional hues of hope, love, and anticipation to meet this little one paint me with naked delight.

 

Running for two is the only journey I know now.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

XO

 

Valgal and Baby Girl – aka Baby Macaroon

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