Nathaniel’s birth story

Firstly, I must say a couple things, which I meant to blog about when I was pregnant but never seemed to have time…
1) I knew it was a boy ever since we took the pregnancy test and there were 2 lines I even told Dr. Pow at one of my prenatal visits to note that on my file, as I was sure of it!
2) I knew his birth would be different than with Alice, but I wasn’t sure in what way; I thought it would likely be quicker (Don and I joked that we wanted to shave 24 hours off this labor; little did we know we’d be able to shave off 29!), and thought he would be early since Alice was 2 days early.

Our son, Nathaniel Robert George Murray was born on January 27th, 2:30am. This is his story.

My pregnancy was a breeze compared to Alice. I didn’t have the initial “expansion”, since Alice already took care of that- I was able to wear my normal clothes for several weeks, even though I was starting to show by 12 weeks. There were 2-3 weeks early on where I didn’t feel good, was tired and had nausea (and thought, “Oh no, here we go again!”), but then it all passed and I felt normal.

Don and I were great at documenting the pregnancy early on with photos, but then we got busy finishing the basement, Christmas came, etc. and photos took a back seat for the entire 3rd trimester.

For the last 3 months I also had excruciating back pain, and suffered until I reached the breaking point. I finally saw a massage therapist, who recommended I see a chiropractor. After just 3 visits with the Dr. adjusting 2 vertebrae in my back (T8 and 9),and adjoining rib 9 I was fine. I couldn’t believe I suffered so much pain for a problem so easily fixed! The pain was primarily when I would sit for too long, or drive for more than 5 minutes. I would be in tears for many car rides, even as a passenger. So, the phrase “sit and relax” did not apply to me for many weeks.

Ironically, when I was working, I felt the best. Don would claim that’s just my way of being incoragable and not wanting to take any time off before baby came… but feeling so good (aside from back pain), it kept me happy and busy.

I worked until Jan. 10th, thinking that would give me a week or so off before baby, and that would be enough time. Little did I know I’d have have 17 days! It was hard being off work, and staying home with Alice. We couldn’t do much because of my back, and the last stretch of pregnancy isn’t fun to begin with, since all you can think about is having the baby. I actually tried several things to try to induce labor, none of which worked. Pineapple, castor oil, raspberry leaf tea. It was ultimately just frustrating, and baby came when he was ready, not when Mommy was…

I also didn’t have gestational diabetes this time, another bonus. I only gained 17 lbs., about half as much as with Alice. I actually lost 1 kg between
weeks 38 and 39.

At my 40 week visit with Dr. Pow, he did an internal exam and said I was 1-2 cm dialated and 25-50% effaced. He rimmed my cervix/stripped my membranes also at this time. This was not a pleasant experience by any means, as Dr. Pow was also trying to move baby down at the same time.

It was hard to breathe! Don can attest to the discomfort by the fingernail marks on his right hand….

Dr. Pow said to expect some bloody show after this visit, and that this procedure should speed things up; he said I could go into labor that day or the next, even. This of course was good news to me- not being a very patient person.

When I got home from Dr. Pow’s, our new kitchen table was being delivered. I came into the house and felt what seemed to me like my water broke- I told Rene (she had been here since Jan.17th to prepare for baby’s arrival). and she said to go upstairs and check. It wasn’t amniotic fluid, but certainly blood- more than I thought normal. I called health link and they advised based on what I told them the protocol would be to go into L&D (labor and delivery)and get checked out.

Don came home and picked me up, and we went to Rockyview. They hooked me up to the fetal monitoring machine to make sure baby was okay, and after a couple hours we were back home, all okay. Later that day I started to loose my mucus plug- something else that I had not had the pleasure to experience with Alice’s pregnancy…I assumed it was lost in one shot- this is not the case. Apparently the mucus plug can be a lot more mucus than one might think; and can be lost over days- for me it was Thursday and Friday, and Saturday.

At least I knew that this meant baby was coming soon, but how soon?

On Saturday, I had Braxton Hicks all day- I had been having false labor for weeks, off and on almost daily, so I was used to the mild contractions and cramping. These contractions didn’t stop, however, so I suspected I might finally be in labor. I drank lots of raspberry leaf tea, to speed things along if I could (Dr. Pow did recommend it, after all). Mom and dad came up for a visit on Saturday, and we all went to Cattle Baron for supper (I felt like having a big steak- another sign?).

I jokingly told mom that perhaps they should get a hotel room instead of going back to Olds, in case I went into labor.

That night Don and I finally managed to get some much over due pregnancy photos, at 40 weeks.

That was 9:15pm.

I went to bed after that, and was almost alseep when I had a contraction that made me realize I was in fact in labor. Twenty min. later I had another one, so I came downstairs and told Don we might finally be in labor. (I said, “I think we’re in business- I’m having contractions that are making me scowl!”) It was now 10PM. I went back to bed, as I was quite very happy there, and knew I might not get to be there for awhile…days….I had a couple more contractions, this time about 11 min. apart, and I had to start breathing through them; we called my mother and Chrissy. Mom said she’d pack her bag and have dad drive her to the hospital to meet us there. This was about 11pm.

I talked to Chrissy for about 20 min. and had 2 contractions while on the phone- it was nice to be able to share part of my labor with her, as I knew she wouldn’t be able to be there at the hospital with us. I had to put the phone down during the contractions; when I felt one coming I said “hold on”, would breath through it, then continue talking. It was a very nice way to have labor! I finally told her I should go, as we should probably get going to the hospital. She wished me luck with everything and said I love you- I told her I loved her too. We don’t say this enough in our family!!!! For those who may read this 🙂

We packed coolers of food in preparation for many hours of labor, so that Don and my mother wouldn’t starve this time! I had a shower (again, knowing I wouldn’t be able to have one of these for a few days) and a snack, then we made our way to the hospital at midnight.

I was glad I went into labor at night, when Alice was asleep, so that she’d miss that part and wake up with Auntie Rene, no disruption to her routine. The car ride to the hospital wasn’t as bad as it was with Alice’s labor, it was much more managable- so much in fact that I still wasn’t convinced we were really in labor, even though the contractions were regular at 7 min. apart. We got to the hospital and were directed to the assesment room, where I was hooked up to the fetal monitor and instructed to wait for a nurse to come and check me in 15 min.

My mother arrived as were just getting into the room, so it was perfect timing.

It was a busy night in L&D, so Nurse Judy took a while to come and check me; during this time, my contractions became much stronger and were every 4 minutes, like clockwork (Don could actually use his watch to predict when the next one was coming). I was laboring very well, and had Don hold my hand while I focused on one little part of his shirt, breathing through the contractions (without screaming!). We were doing very well and I was very geared up for the rest of my labor once I got into a room where I could move around (laying down is about the least ideal position for a laboring woman).

Nurse Judy finally came in to check me at about 1:30am. She had about 2 min. until my next contraction. She examined me and said I was 4 cm dialated, and kept feeling around and said “I feel feet” and then said baby wasen’t vertex. She next asked what I ate for supper. I told her I had a big steak dinner at 5:30pm. She told me baby was breech and I had to have a C-section. I said “My baby is breech because I ate steak?” I literally infered this because I was in complete shock that this was happening…she then apologized as she just broke my bag of water- which I felt her touch, then a burst of fluid- it very much felt like a water balloon inside me just burst. Fluid was everywhere, it soaked the mattress pad I was laying on plus the sheet covering me; she told me it was slightly green colored, which she said is normal for breech babies. Of course by now I was having another contraction, which pushed more amniotic fluid out, so it felt like I was peeing while contracting. Plus I was in tears over the news of a c-section, and could absolutely not focus on my labor.

Since we were changing gears, things now happened very quickly- nurse Judy told me to take off all my jewellery and put an IV in me right away, and a nurse came for blood work; Dr. Chan, the anestheseologist came in and there was a flood of paperwork. Dr. Pow arrived shortly after in his scrubs; he sat down on my bed and held my hand, reassuring me this was okay. This meant the world to me, I was so glad he was there, and for the delivery of my baby. He kept holding my hand and took over answering Judy’s questions for me while I was having contractions. Do Doctors do this anymore? I don’t know, but I’m so grateful mine does!

Dr. Chan explained the options about anesthetic ie/spinal vs. epidural; when I told him I have MS, he explained the only option was for an epidural, I couldn’t have a spinal due to that risk factor. I was given the salt shot thing, which I was told to drink like a shot, as I might gag if I sipped it, so I did, and it was indeed quite disgusting. (I remember Tammy telling me about this, so I was certainly not looking forward to it!) Dr. Mattathall came in briefly to introduce herself as the one who would be performing the surgery, though I don’t recall her really being there; it all happened so fast.

Once the paperwork was filled out, I was taken to the O.R. and Don went with Dr.Pow to get into his scrubs. Don said he and Dr. Pow had a good chat- he learned that Dr.Pow’s father is a surgeon, and they’d scrubbed in together. Don also got to watch Dr. Pow scrub up- something he describes as pretty cool to watch.

While this was happening, I was getting my epidural. Since I no longer had my labor partner, I had a nurse step in for this job, and she was very nice, thank God. She helped me through contractions- I had one while being preped for the epidural, and one while the needle was going in my spine (just as I did with Alice’s birth). It was strange to be leaning over a nurse while having this procedure done instead of Don- there wasen’t anyone in this room that I knew (Dr. Pow wasn’t scrubbed in yet).

Once the epidural was in, they laid me down on the O.R. table- which I noted seemed quite small, smaller than hospital beds- the O.R. was noteably small as well, smaller than I thought it might be. They immediately put up the drape and someone put a catheter in me (which I could still feel as the epidural haden’t taken effect yet). Don and Dr. Pow came in, I was happy to see my husband!! (even though I couldn’t see much of him, with his face and head covered, and wearing a gown- I told him he didn’t make a good doctor, he should stay an engineer…) I was shaking so bad, I couldn’t hold still- partly nerves, partly the epidural (I had the shakes with Alice too). I couldn’t see everyone present in the room, but Dr. Pow later explained that there was a team for me, and a team for baby. There was Dr. Mattathall who did the surgery, and Dr. Pow assisted. There was a scrub nurse and a circulation nurse, and Dr. Chan the anesthesiologist. That was my team. Baby had a team of 3- a respiratory therapist, a nurse and a resident on board.

For the surgery, Dr. Pow explained that I would feel a lot of tugging and pulling, and that the incision is through the skin layers only, and should not feel any pain. He said I may also experience a lot of pressure in my chest area as they get baby out, this is all normal.

He announced they’ve done some test areas and were happy with them ie/ I didn’t comment that I felt anything, and were going to start.

Well, I felt one big cut, and screamed, and said “I felt that!” and said that it hurt- I wasn’t expecting to feel that! So Dr. Chan immediately gave me a second dose of the epidural and said that should help. I felt lots of tugging and pulling- an extremely uncomfortable feeling, to say the least. It felt like, well, they were pulling a baby out of me! So this I knew to expect. Then I felt another cut- yikes! More screaming and “ouch” “I felt that!” and Dr. Chan said he could give me something to help but I might not remember this. So I said “no”. Then I felt another slice! and shouted “yes!” So in went the wonder drug and from there my memory of the birth of my baby is spotty at best.

I don’t remember any more pain or tugging and pulling. I remember Don saying to me “It’s a boy!”, and I apparently replied “See? I told you so!” and kept telling him to take lots of photos. (I don’t remember saying that either).

Baby Nathaniel was born at 2:30am.

I remember Dr. Chan taking a photo of the 3 of us. And that’s about it until they transfered me to the recovery room.

Now this is an experience I do not care to go through again, ever.

I remember Dr. Chan telling the nurse that it’d take me awhile to “thaw out”, since I was given 2 doses of epidural plus a sedative. This sedative is called ketamine (also refered to as “special k”) and made me completely loopy.

Apparently it was discovered in the 60’s as a drug with psycahdelic side effects…

It made me have the wierdest thoughts and seemed to take forever to wear off; I kept trying to focus on one thing, so that I wouldn’t feel so loopy… I also kept trying to focus on the conversations going on in the recovery room- my mom was talking to the nurse quite a bit. This took my mind off the fact that I couldn’t feel anything below my sternum- I was frozen as frozen can be. Why couldn’t I have felt like that in the O.R.?

It was a completely awful feeling.

All I wanted to do was move my legs. It felt like a ton of bricks were on top of my legs!

I kept telling the nurse this, it was a feeling so completely urgent to me that I could hardly bear it. It was so awful!

Plus I still was shaking a lot.

I felt like I was in the worst drug nightmare ever!

It felt better when she kept piling on warm blankets, so I kept asking for them. At least then I could stop shaking (my upper body).

A couple hours later the freezing finally started to come out; the nurse would check with an ice cube, and slowly but surely the frozen area moved down my body.

Finally I felt tingling in my legs; I knew the end was near! This was about 5am.

My drugs were wearing off, and I was finally starting to feel like a person. They transfered baby and I to postpartum, and Don and mom were there. I was still kind of out of it, and thoroughly exhausted.

I told mom and Don to go home, there was no sense in them sticking around- baby would be in the nursery until I was able to move. Plus the weather was getting bad.

The weather that day ranged from about -10C and clear in the morning, to a -46C windchill with blowing snow at night.

So they left, and I was alone. Well, not really.

I was in a semi-private room, which means shared. I don’t know why they call them semi-private, when there isn’t any privacy at all, except for a curtain you can close, that is, if you’re able to get out of bed!

At 7am the husband for the woman next to me came, bringing nasty smelling food with him. Not breakfast, but some kind of strange rice concoction that I didn’t want to guess what was in it.

I could hear everything they did, as well as their baby. I had the bed closest to the door and bathroom, so they were constantly walking past my bed- oh yes, and the garbage can was directly at the end of my bed against the wall, also bad for me. It was so extremely annoying! The nurses couldn’t seem to keep my curtains closed…

That mother was discharged at 9am, and they didn’t leave until 11am. They kept eating/feeding baby/going back and forth/throwing things in the garbage..

My nurse for that day was nurse Shelly, as it would turn out, the best nurse I’d have. She came in with baby around 8:30am. She took my vitals and my oxygen was low, so she gave me the oxygen until my levels came back up, around 11am. Mom said she’d be back with dad by 9 or 10am; I was waiting for this soooo bad because of my roommates.

I was happy when it was 9am, but by 10am I was wondering whether or not they were coming. By lunch at 11:30 I knew they weren’t coming, and was disappointed- mostly I was just wondering if anything happened to prevent them from coming, and of course started to worry. By 12:30 I was upset and wondering if everyone forgot about me and baby! I just gave birth and nobody was here!

And was everyone okay? The weather was supposed to be bad, I had all sorts of thoughts go through my head… nurse Shelly came in and gave me her phone so I could call home… just as I was calling Don and Alice showed up.

I was so happy to see them!

Alice was happy to see me and baby, but she didn’t know what to think of me in a hospital bed, and likely looking as awful as I did; plus I couldn’t get out of bed yet and couldn’t move much.

Also, I had funny things on my legs- the pressure cuffs they put on the lower part of your legs to prevent blood clots. (these by the way are annoying—very, very itchy!). I had to have them on until I could get out of bed and get on my feet.

Nurse Shelly had just tried at noon to get me up, but I felt dizzy and nauseous, and it was too painfull. So instead she gave me a sponge bath (my first ever), but felt good to get sort of clean anyway. It also felt good to get my catheter out… I hate these so much!

Alice and Don only stayed about an hour- long enough for Alice. Then he took her home and came back later in the afternoon.

When he came back, nurse Shelly came in and we tried once again for me to get out of bed. I again felt nauseous and weak, but managed to stand up; she told me to stand up straight (ouch!), and then walk to the other end of the room and back (more ouch!)- but the more I moved, the easier it was, and I had my IV pole to walk with- she wouldn’t let Don help me at all (because I’d have to do it alone after he was gone anyway).

Don left later in the afternoon, then I was on my own once again. Nurse Shelly was done her shift at 7:30pm, then I had nurse Amber. She’d be my worst nurse, as it would turn out…

By the time she was on shift, I really had to pee. Nurse Shelly told me earlier that afternoon that some women have trouble voiding after surgery, but to try to go often and not think about it and I should be okay. But if I haven’t gone in 6 hours, I would have to get another catheter. NO THANKS! Well, telling me that I might not be able to pee, guess what. For the life of me, I couldn’t pee no matter how hard I tried (or didn’t try). So by the 4 hour mark I told Nurse Amber my problem, and that I really had to go (but of course couldn’t). She said she’d wait another hour and then do a bladder scan to see how much urine was there and that would determine if she should give me an in/out catheter or one to leave in overnight. I wasn’t sure the point of the scan or waiting- but anyway.

After an hour she came back and then said she was going to wait until the 6 hour mark, since that’s the time frame they allow for this kind of thing- but I have to pee NOW!!!

I told her if she made me wait another hour my bladder would explode, and she was going to help me NOW.

She said she’d have to get another nurse to help her and be right back. This wasn’t looking good…

She came back with another nurse, and they started; between the 2 of them, I’m not sure either had enough experience to perform such a procedure. They were saying things like, “Is that it?” And the other would reply, “No, too high”, or “That’s too low”. You can imagine how awful this feels, no amount of apology can make up for it! They finally were able to insert the catheter, thank God!

Within minutes, the nurse came back and said, “oh, you really did have to go, there’s 1200ml in there already!”.

Umm, which part of “I gotta pee!” didn’t she understand!!!!

Anyway, the catheter was in all night, and Nathaniel and I had a pretty good night. I actually slept, in between nurses coming in to check vitals/empty catheter bags/give me formula for baby/give me meds. At 6am, Amber took the catheter out- a much easier task than putting it in, which was good for me. At 8am, I managed to go pee! Only 50ml, but I thought this a great success.

Dr. Pow came in to check on us, and said he was discharging baby pending my discharge, he didn’t have any concerns for Nathaniel.

At 10am, I managed to pee 400ml- I felt off to the races now!

My day nurse wanted to check my bladder just to make sure I was voiding okay, since I had problems the day before.

She’d scan my bladder and depending on where the probe was, would read different amounts of urine still in my bladder. So began the day of bladder scans… Dr. Mattathal came in to check on me later in the morning and we talked about how I was doing- I said great, except had concerns about this whole bladder thing. She said that she would come back later and check on me, and if things weren’t sorted out yet I might have to stay another night.

Don came in the afternoon, it was sure nice to see daddy!

The nurse had come back and advised that Dr. Mattathall’s notes on my file said that if the bladder scans still showed urine, they would teach me self-catheterization in order to send me home.

This was so NOT happening!

Don told the nurse he was also not interested in learning this skill….

We decided perhaps the best approach was for them to do an in/out catheter, and then do a scan to determine if in fact there is a urine issue (for heaven’s sakes, I just wanted to stop thinking about pee!).

So with this, I stipulated that the only way I was willing to have another catheter is if someone experienced at this performed the task- I was not going to go through another one of those : “Is that it?” exercises. So a nurse Claudette came in, and she had 18 years experience in Urology; I figured this was likely good enough. So this catheter went MUCH better, with only the normal amount of unpleasantness and discomfort.

The nurse had me stand up with it to make sure it drained everything in my bladder; she also moved it around, in and out to make sure (this isn’t much fun either). But at least this way we knew that there was no urine in my bladder.

So, after taking the catheter out the nurse scanned my bladder, and it read 450ml present in my bladder.

Now, I think it was safe to assume that was NOT urine, and either the scanner wasn’t working properly, or it was picking up other fluid somewhere else. I felt much better knowing I wasn’t crazy, thinking I couldn’t pee properly. This was late afternoon. The nurse said that perhaps we could order an ultrasound to determine what the problem is (She confirmed it wasn’t a hematoma, since there were no signs of that); she would consult the resident on duty since Dr. Mattathal was busy in the O.R.

She returned to say that they wouldn’t order an ultrasound since they consider the (junky) bladder scanner to essentially be an ultrasound, and many patients were already waiting for ultrasounds that were higher priority; apparently I was also supposed to have another overnight catheter and re-address the problem in the morning.

Don left, and at 7:30pm, my night nurse came on duty. She looked at my file and asked 2 questions:
1) Am I voiding large amounts?
yes.
2) Do I feel like I have fully emptied my bladder when I pee?
yes.
She said these are the only 2 things they look for, and all this scanning
business isn’t normal.

I told her that it all started because the night before I couldn’t pee, so the Dr. ordered regular scans to make sure my bladder was getting empty once I was able to go. She didn’t feel the catheter was necessary, along with the scanning. I certainly agreed.

She said she would “conveniently” forget to do both, and just drop the issue. This way Nathaniel and I could eat and rest as needed. She was also good, because she came in to check vitals/meds and other things only when baby woke to eat, so we weren’t disturbed much.

I slept, Nathaniel slept, and we both had a great night.

Then next morning, the resident Dr. on duty came in to discharge me (Dr. Mattathal once again busy with other patients)- I didn’t bring up the bladder issue, and neither did the Dr.; she just asked the routine questions, including if I was voiding okay, and I said “YES!”, and well, that was that. How ridiculous was all of this!!!

I called Don and told him to come get us, I couldn’t wait to go home! I filled out all the paperwork, got Nathaniel and I all packed up, and Don came.

We had to dress warm- it was -27C with a windchill of -42!!