Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Story of Isaiah

I can't believe my baby boy is turning ONE tomorrow.  I wrote this post not long after he was born, but never got around to posting it.  It guess it is "just another" birth story, but of course I think it is special because it is his story. 
I want to document Isaiah's birth story, just as I documented our other boys' stories. There are some details not included that will just be for our family, but these are the parts of story I am willing to share. Each of my boys' stories are unique and so special. When Isaiah was one week old I went on a short walk with Bunte and Isaiah, and Bunte asked me why the doctor named Isaiah, Isaiah.

"Well," I replied, "the doctor did not name him, Daddy and I named him, just like your Ethiopia mommy named you."

"Why did you pick Isaiah?" Bunte asked.

"Because Isaiah is a beautiful name and Isaiah was one of God's prophets in the Bible. His name means The Lord is my Salvation. Do you know what your name means, Bunte?"

"No, what?"

"Your Ethiopia mommy gave you that name because it means 'My Crown.' When you were born, she was so proud of you that she thought you were her crown, just like a queen would wear; beautiful and special. I bet you made her feel like a queen." As our conversation continued I had to turn my eyes away from him because I could not stop the tears. I don't think he noticed, he just continued on to the next topic, without skipping a beat... something about groundhogs, I think. Meanwhile, my mind kept processing all that has happened over the last three years. How is it that I am so blessed to raise all three of my boys? What precious gifts have been entrusted to me, each their mothers' crown (and yes, I meant mothers, plural, two of my boys are blessed to have two moms that love(d) them). Maybe my postpartum hormones were just raging, or maybe it was just such a moment that any human with an ounce of emotion would tear up as well.

But that is where Isaiah's story begins... with a name (or lack thereof.) On the Tuesday before Isaiah was born, we did not have a name for him. We had 10 names we each liked, but none that we thought were "the one." I headed to the OB on Tuesday afternoon for a stress test and checkup, now that I was nearly 41 weeks. Everything looked mostly okay on the u/s, but he just wasn't moving like they wanted him to, so the midwife decided to schedule an induction for the next morning. Isaiah had run out of room to grow. He was moving his limbs a bit, but not his body and they were concerned that he might lose some muscle tone. During those last few weeks I barely felt him move, but I knew he was okay because he had hiccups at least three times a day! After the appointment, Wes and I went home, put the hospital bags in the car, and arranged for my Dad to watch our big boys while we enjoyed our "last meal." (I regretted eating that huge steak dinner the next day.) My midwife had stripped my membranes (again) that afternoon, so I had pretty bad contractions during dinner and thought we might head into the hospital even earlier... but the contractions subsided once I went to bed, just like they had so many evening before. I was, after all, dilated to 4cm for nearly three weeks and had become quite accustomed to thinking I was going into labor... and then not. When we came home from dinner, the boys were going to bed so we spent some time mulling over the names and narrowed our selection to five. We planned to take our short list with us, and decided the baby would "choose" his name when we met him.

That night I hardly slept a wink, alternating between anxiety over the entire birth experience (after all, this was my first traditional birth), worrying about my big boys while I was gone, praying for protection, and cuddling my sweet Payton who was very sick and needed his neb treatments throughout the night. I probably slept two hours, at most, that night. At 6 am, we called the hospital as instructed and they said, "come on in." We got the kids ready for school, gave them kisses, took my last pregnancy photos and headed in for the big day.

When we arrived at 730, I thought for sure I would be "in labor" within the hour. But at 1030, I was still waiting on my IV! It took them a while to get through all the initial charting and then they had some trouble with my IV. It turns out I literally have thick skin. The needle wouldn't even go into left arm. The nurse decided it was too terrible to watch (or do) so she wanted to get someone else to try. Finally, the IV was in my right arm and we could get the party started. The midwife was hoping to just break my water, but our little man was still floating around in there, so she decided to put me on pitocin to try and push him down a bit more. The pitocin was flowing and the contractions (according to the monitor) were coming every two minutes, but I literally barely felt them. I alternated between walking laps in the L and D portion of the hospital and rocking in the chair for about three hours. I also enjoyed a popsicle or two during this time (I did not enjoy them when I saw them again a few hours later!)

Finally, my midwife came back to check me again around 230. I was still only 4 cm, but the contractions pushed the baby down far enough that she was able to break my water. And as it turns out, my amniotic sac was unusually tough as well, just like my skin. Wes said when she was trying to break it, it was like watching the midwife and the amniotic sac play tug of war. I probably would have gone into labor weeks earlier if my water would have broken like normal. Anyhow, within minutes I went from having very mild contractions to very strong contractions, but I only really felt them in my back, and I found out why when our little guy was born. The midwife gave me a TENS unit (a small device that sends electric impulses along your spine) to help distract the nerves in my back from the pain I was feeling. She said I should progress about a centimeter an hour and she would check me again in 2-3 hours. At that point, I declined any further medical pain relief and continued to labor by walking and rocking on the birthing ball. I was still on a heavy drip of pitocin at this point.

The next hour and half were quite a blur. I think it is true that women go into some sort of trance when they are in labor. In fact, I am not even certain that everything I am writing is exactly accurate, these are just the parts that I can recount. Time passed very quickly because I was just focused on getting through each contraction. During the first part, Wes applied pressure to my back, which really helped. Then, I just did not want to be touched any more as the pain intensified. I remember feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom and asked my friend, Annie, who happens to be a labor and delivery nurse AND who was sweet enough to be a coach for me during the entire birth AND is Isaiah's Godmother, if it was okay for me to go. She said sure and I walked into the bathroom. At that point, all I remember was sitting down and moments later feeling like it was time to have the baby. I told Annie I wanted to push and she said not to until I got off the toilet. But I just. couldn't. move. ... the thought of getting up was simply too painful. I remember either being in tears or being close to tears at this point. I think I muttered (okay, growled/screamed) a few curse words at this point too. I also grabbed Wes' ears and pulled during one contraction. (We can laugh about that now...) Finally, Wes and Annie drug me to the bed. Literally. I don't think I actively moved my legs. I remember telling Annie, "that's it... I'm calling it! I WANT that epidural." I was ready to cry Uncle! And thinking to myself, "I am such a wimp! I can't even make it from 4 to 6 cm without an epidural!" Little did I know I had just made it through transition! She immediately contacted my midwife and in a few moments she was there to check me... I was 9.5 cm and it was time to push! WHAT? I remember saying, "she (the midwife) said it would be SIX hours of labor! It's only been about an hour!" Somehow, I made it through transition and I was a little freaked out!

Then the anesthesiologist got there to give me and epidural. I don't remember the epidural hurting at all! I remember thinking that sitting on the bed was the most intense pain of my life. My lower back hurt so much. Wes was such a champ during all of this, as I was literally pulling on his ears during my contractions. Annie said some sweet prayers over me during this time as well that helped me focus and endure this part.

Then I started pushing. The anesthesiologist only gave me a bolus shot for the epidural, rather than hooking me up to a drip because we thought I wouldn't be pushing long (HA!). It took about 5 or so minutes of pushing before I started to notice any pain relief. I pushed for sometime but then started to feel like my eyes were closing and things started beeping and people rushed in. My blood pressure and the baby's heart rate had decreased significantly due to the medicine from the epidural. I had to stop pushing for about 20 minutes or so as they stabilized my blood pressure. The nurses continued to move me from one side to the other trying to get the baby's heart rate up too. I think they gave me ephedrine during all of this. For me, this was the scariest point during my labor. I remember looking at Wes and saying that I did not want to close my eyes. Once again, Annie prayed over me and the baby and Wes held my hand through it all. I just cannot imagine this experience without both of them being there.

Finally, it was time to push again, but the epidural was somewhat gone because I spent that time (somewhat pain free) trying to stabilize my blood pressure. I continued to push but I was starting to think that there was just no way that little guy could make it out. I was going starting in to hour three of pushing and new it wouldn't be long before we might have to consider a new game plan (c-section).  I often would try to get in a fourth push with each contraction to try and speed things up. Finally, with some additional interventions from the midwife, Isaiah could finally make his way into the world... with his little hand and elbow next to his head. No wonder he was such a tight fit! He was screaming before he was even all the way out! An attitude from the get go. I remember they plopped him on my chest and all I could think was "He is huge!" And he was rather large, weighing in at 8lbs 7oz. Then I remember turning to Wes and saying, "He is so much cuter than I thought he would be." I guess I thought we were too ugly to have a cute baby?  I don't know.  I was so exhausted.  And so in love with this (big) little bundle of joy. 

We enjoyed admiring our newest little guy while I delivered the placenta and the midwife collected the cord blood for donation. And then we realized that he needed a name. After the long hours of pushing and the scary blood pressure issues (which aren't all that uncommon, but still frightening when it is happening to you), I decided he must have a biblical name and Isaiah seemed perfect. Then we chose Reed for his middle name because he is a red head, and Reed is an English name for Red. We also liked the name because we are huge Baltimore Ravens fans and Ed Reed is one of our favorite players.

And that is the story of Isaiah Reed's birth... and his name. I am shocked if you actually read all of this ;) Each mother has her birth story, I have one traditional one, and two not-so-traditional "labors" (that lasted for much longer than a day!) and each mother remembers those moments that they first saw their newest little one.  And his birthday is a particularly wonderful day to remember what a precious gift we received.  Our Isaiah Reed.

Our first photo of our little Isaiah Reed :)