Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Welcome, Matthew Thomas!

Well my last published post was Joseph's birth story, so here we are 2.5 years later, welcoming his little brother, Matthew Thomas! Buckle up for a long story. [All photos by Lane B. Photography]

At 10:23 a.m. on May 8, 2018, we welcomed Matthew Thomas Polley!

My pregnancy with Matthew was identical to how it was with Joseph. Big, straight-out belly, no nausea, and overall very pleasant. I even gained the exact same amount of weight I did with J. Everything was so similar, I even expected to go into labor at the same point I did with Joseph (40 + 6). Hahaha. Well that day came and went! There was a big full moon the weekend of my due date. Nope, didn't do it. I got a massage and she did trigger points on my feet. Didn't do it. Pedicure. Didn't do it. Pineapple, spicy foods, walking, bouncing on a ball, and more ;) ... didn't do it. Since I was a TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean) candidate, we started talking induction as it would be better to have him sooner than later. Awesome - I was all for getting this baby out.

At 41 weeks, the plan was to go in Monday night at 8 p.m. to try for an induction. (This felt incredibly weird - like we were checking into a hotel instead of going to have a baby.) The only way they would be able to induce was with a Foley catheter, and I needed to be at least a 1, which I was, and my midwife the Thursday before was sure they would be able to get it in.

The midwife on-call Monday night checked me and I was barely a 1, but she was still willing to try inducing as another midwife had told her that I really wanted to try for a VBAC. Then she palpated my stomach to check baby's position. She wasn't quite sure where he was presenting, so she performed a sonogram and saw that he was sideways. (Yes - my giant baby still had enough room to move around and be sideways after being head down for weeks, and after I had been seeing a chiropractor regularly throughout the third trimester.)

She also noticed that I had a lot of fluid in there and asked if I knew or suspected that I had polyhydramnios again - well this was grievance number 1 of the birth because I had asked this same midwife about my fluid levels just two weeks prior and she had said that she only saw normal pockets of fluid. So, thanks for that.

Moving on. Since induction was not an option (unstable lie, excess fluid, chance of cord prolapse with labor), we decided I would have a repeat C section (RCS) the next morning. Fine! We had prayed for a clear answer and it seemed like this was it. They gave me an Ambien and we got one more good night of sleep.

The next morning, they drew some blood and started talking C section. In talking with my L&D nurse, Barb, she asked why they weren't going to try a version to reposition baby. I had asked the midwife the night before if I could leave, try to get him into a better position and then come back. She had made it sound like that wasn't an option, but now Barb was asking about it as well. She took the time to check with the doctor and to see if that was an option. She had the OB come in to check me, and I was still at a 1 and they still recommended a RCS. Fine - thank you for checking.

Then my damn blood results came back. Low platelets. Enter grievance number 2. I've watched so much Grey's Anatomy and have a general interest in the medical field, so whenever I get blood results back from Quest, I like to read over them. I did this a couple of times earlier in the pregnancy, and both times my platelets were below the "normal" threshold. At one of my appointments, I asked the midwife if this was a problem. She said since my platelets had been low during my first pregnancy, that it was not a problem. False false false. This completely changed the course of my birth as it made it unable for me to receive spinal anesthesia. If I had labored, I wouldn't have been a candidate for an epidural, and with the RCS I could not receive a spinal block for fear of blood traveling to my brain and causing severe neurological problems. Excellent.

Just to be sure, they took a second blood sample to recount the platelets. Someone somewhere in the hospital took a look through a microscope and physically counted my platelets on a slide. I needed them to be at 100 or more to receive spinal anesthesia. The final count was 84.

This was devastating. Every step along the way I kept thinking, okay well if I have to have another C section, at least it can be "gentle" - they can drop the drape, I can hold baby in the OR, etc as it wouldn't be an emergency. What I got instead was my worst case scenario where I would have to be knocked out for the procedure. My husband and my birth photographer would not be able to be in the room, and I wouldn't be able to hear that first cry.

A few days later I would finally hear the two words that name this condition and would be on repeat in my head for a few weeks: gestational thrombocytopenia. I didn't understand why there wasn't a way to treat this either in the hospital at home. Could I not go home for a few days, take some pills or receive IV platelets - something/anything to bring my platelets up so I wouldn't have to be knocked out? Nobody seemed really clear on this, other than the only way to treat it was to get the baby out.

I have to say that along the way, Barb took lots of time reporting back to the OB and checking in with various personnel to make absolutely sure that this was how my story needed to play out, especially since nothing was emergent about my condition. She advocated for me and asked all the questions that I would have been asking myself or saying "what if" to over the next days/weeks. Thank you, Barb!!

Once I had calmed down a bit and stopped crying, we had a little family prayer time and then it was time to go back! For general anesthesia, they want to get baby out as quickly as possible once you're under to keep the baby from receiving the effects of the anesthesia, so they do as much as possible prior to knocking you out. The wait was somewhat terrible, mostly because of the weight of my giant pregnant belly while lying on my back. They also had to insert a catheter before I was knocked out as well... you can imagine how pleasant that was. But the saving grace of it all was the team around me - thanks be to God. They were fun, light-hearted, and pleasant to be around. I knew I was in good hands. Once the anesthesiologist ensured everything was ready to go, I said "Good night and good luck," and it was off to dream land.

Are you ready for me to sing more praises for Barb? Here we go.

While I was under, Barb... 
- Used my photographer's camera and Mark's phone to take pictures and videos.
- Made sure they didn't weigh/measure Matthew so they could do it in the room once I was awake.
- Had the mother/baby nurse, Taylor, place Matthew on me for skin-to-skin.
- Had Matthew taken out to the recovery room so Mark could hold him while they waited for my procedure to finish.
- Took pictures of and brought my placenta back to the recovery room (per my gross/unusual request!).

She was phenomenal, and without her I would feel much different about how that day went.

First skin-to-skin

Soon I was back in the recovery room getting to see and meet my son. He was huge and perfect. They called out his measurements and we were all shocked - 10 pounds, 11 ounces. DAMN. The next hour or two was a blur of morphine and endorphins - I kept saying, "I'm just so happy!" but also yelling some expletives when I moved or coughed the wrong way. (C sections are so common you forget how major a surgery it is.)

He's HOW BIG??

I think I'm talking about the catheter here. Hahaha
We stayed in the hospital until Friday afternoon - partially because of my platelets going up and down again and partially because I hadn't passed gas yet. (I had some fun times with my nurse, Theresa, throwing back prune juice and milk of magnesia like it was a Jagerbomb.)

All in all, everything was horrible and not at all what I expected. I felt for a moment like God had abandoned me. I didn't understand why every step of the way I was sent down the worst path. But it's possible that if I had gone into labor that his cord would have prolapsed, or I would've had to push out a 10 pound baby without an epidural, or I could've had a baby and then experienced brain death. I know it's terribly cliche, but I have to quote Garth: "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." He answered our prayers in other ways - through the care providers and through modern medicine. We have a healthy baby boy and I'm here and healthy as well. Thank you, Jesus.




Elaine! (Lane B Photography)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Welcome to the world, Joseph Daniel!

---------------------------WARNING-------- Post contains semi-graphic images of my Cesarean Section.

Saturday morning, September 26, I woke up feeling weird. I didn't want to be around anyone and was feeling very irritable. This made me really happy, though, as I was 40 weeks + 4 days and felt like this might be my body telling me I was about to go into labor. Hallelujah! I was supposed to meet Mark and some of his friends to watch football, but decided to run errands instead. I think I used all my "nesting" energy on getting fall/Halloween decorations for our house. ha!

Later that night, during the A&M game, I was still feeling lots of energy and set to work on fixing myself dinner. The A&M game had gone into overtime, and right when A&M was on their way to coming back to win, my water broke. Thank goodness I was standing on the kitchen tile because it was a huge SPLOOSH all over the floor. What a sensation! I got so excited and told Mark, texted my doula, called to tell my mom and called to notify the on-call midwife.

At this point I thought I was only having Braxton Hicks contractions, so the midwife said to just try to get some rest and to go to the birth center the next morning around 9 to check in. Not long after, I started having contractions. All night long I had contractions that lasted anywhere from 30-60 seconds every 5 minutes or so, but weren't getting longer/stronger/closer together.

The next morning we packed up and went to the birth center, thinking this would be the day! Carla was the midwife on call, and after feeling around for the baby's position, she decided to use the ultrasound machine to figure out where his head was.

Flashback to the weeks before, the midwives had been concerned about his position because his head hadn't engaged and at times had been tilted to the side. I went to a chiropractor three times and performed all sorts of positioning exercises to try to get him to engage. The other problem was that there was so much fluid in there, so much that later on the midwives would say they think I had polyhydramnios.

SO. Much to my surprise, while she was performing the ultrasound, Carla said that my water hadn't broken. WHAT?! I told her, uh, yes it did, I have pictures to prove it if you'd like to see them? But apparently I had two bags of water and the one that was around the baby hadn't broken yet. (Apparently everyone has two bags, but usually at some point during the pregnancy they fuse together.) So with the bag of water still in tact and baby boy's head still not engaged, I was only at 2 centimeters (after 12 hours of labor). We made the decision for her to strip my membranes, and in the process the other bag broke, and this one had meconium in it.

Since little man's head was asynclitic and there was meconium in the water, we called up my chiropractor to try to get his head to engage and get labor going. We tried all sorts of positions (lunges, abdominal lift and tucks during contractions, side-lying releases, etc etc) for a few hours. My contractions were getting stronger, but I still wasn't making any progress. At this time, Carla monitored baby boy's heart rate during a few contractions and noticed that he was having some pretty big decelerations during the contractions. So around 2:30 p.m. we decided to go to the hospital.

I knew it was the best thing for the baby, but I felt a little defeated. Once we were all checked in and settled in the room, I felt a lot better. I was now under the care of the UNT midwives, and they are awesome. We had the BEST nurses, they were all so sweet and calm and fun to be around - truly a blessing. They started me on the lowest possible dose of Pitocin and we continued to try to get his head to engage. I labored on a birth ball and on my side in the bed with a "peanut" between my knees (like an exercise ball but peanut shaped... very awkward..).

This laboring dance went on for about 6 more hours. Contractions were painful but not unbearable. I kept thinking I could keep going through this if it meant getting the baby out, but my physical and emotional stamina was wearing thin. At 9 p.m., I was at either 4 or 5 centimeters and his head still wasn't engaged. So 24 hours of labor for next to nothing. I was done. I gave it my best shot, but I was ready to tap out. I asked what would happen if I asked for an epidural, and they said, "Well, you would get an epidural." (Ha, seems ridiculous now.)

Oh sweet baby Jesus... the instant relief was incredible. My mom said later, "I think everyone felt better once you got the epidural!" I mean look at my face!

Even with all the risks of an epidural, and the fact that I was essentially giving up on what I thought I could accomplish (a drug-free birth), putting my pride aside was fantastic... Imagine that! And the anesthesiologist who administered the epidural did a fantastic job because I was still able to move from side to side with a little bit of ease. They upped the Pitocin and I was able to get a lot of sleep.

Flash forward to about 9 the next morning and I was only at 7 centimeters and baby boy was only at a zero station.

Since he was having bigger dips in his heart rate throughout the night and we weren't making any progress, we made the decision to get a C section. At this point we had tried everything so it felt great knowing we were finally going to meet our boy!

Last pic as a family of 2!

My sister and Mark suiting up!

Clearly still feeling good, excited to meet Joseph!

Once the room was ready and we were all prepped, my sister and Mark came into the OR and little man was out at 11:59 a.m.!

We had the best nurses and doctors!

The love of my life being so supportive...

...he held my hand and reminisced about our first date while they were working.

Almost there! (I really wanted pics of my insides. ha.)

One of my favorites, you can see the clock on the wall as he's coming out!!

There he is!!

Hearing him cry for the first time was the sweetest sound I've ever heard.

He weighed 8 pounds, 13 ounces, and was 19.25 inches long. We are so thankful for a healthy baby boy and for all the doctors, nurses, midwives, and care providers who helped us bring him into the world. Praise God!

This shows how his little head got slightly bruised/misshapen from being stuck. Poor dude!

All of that was in me???

Handing over our bundle of joy!

Finally getting to meet my little man.

Polley party of THREE!

Grammy meets Joseph!

So much love!

Aunt Ashley!