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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Birth Story of Gabriel Luka

After my doctor's appointment on the 14th we picked up a pizza at Papa Murphy's taking advantage of their $10 Tuesdays. We ate around 6 and headed to the YMCA to walk the track. After just a few laps I began having contractions. They were hard to notice at first since when I walk I can experience a lot of nerve and ligament pain but when I paid real close attention I noticed a releasing sensation at the end. Chris timed the frequency which fluctuated. I told him not to get too excited about it yet since they might stop when we stop walking and head home. After four miles we called it quits.

When we got home I did some sewing and had only two little contractions between the Y and bed time. At 11:50pm, an hour after we fell asleep, I needed to get up to complete one of my typical five trips to the bathroom. I sat up out of bed, took one step and immediately started gushing water down my legs. I stood there for a second in disbelief and shock, "what do I do?" I thought. I started to calmly, out of my confusion, say, "Chris, chris. Chris? My water. My water broke. Chris." It took him a bit to connect what I was actually saying, seeing how we had just fallen asleep. After standing dumbfoundly in the middle of our bedroom I figured I should probably get off the carpet and make my way to the bathroom. As I sat on the toilet leaking I thought to myself, "no one ever talked about what you do when your water breaks?!" I called my mom, told her that my water broke and asked her what I was supposed to do because I couldn't put on pants but I also couldn't just walk into the birthing center with no bottoms on! She instructed me to put a towel/washcloth in my underwear and sit on towels in the car. 

I had already had much of our bags packed and what wasn't packed was on a list. As we readied our bags I had to make three more trips to the bathroom to stand in the shower due to more water falling out of me! We left the house roughly 40 minutes after my water broke. I started having extremely mild contractions at this point. We made a quick stop to Safeway where Chris ran in and bought three light reading magazines for me and then we were on our way up the hill to the Birthing Center (the Birthing Center is roughly only 15 minutes from our house). I was feeling completely normal at this point, we were even rocking out to Niki Minaj on the radio! 

When we got to the birthing center I was first admitted to the room where a nurse typically comes in and tells you you're not ready to be admitted. She walked in and asked how much of a trickle I had. When I informed her of gushing and having to hangout in the shower a few time while packing she immediately put me in a room. At first they could not find my charts, they kept asking me what my name was and how I spelled it. I guess they saw the concern on my face because they assured me they'd find it and not to worry. Come to find out that since I was already scheduled to induce that night at 9pm, my charts had already been pulled and were not put away yet (since I opted to put off inducing for 6 more days). At 12:45am I was all set up to begin the process. 

We began by walking the halls in intervals, in between some rest and my antibiotics of penicillin every four hours because of the Group Strep-B (GSB) I was previously diagnosed with. When we weren't walking we were trying to sleep. The contractions were getting strong enough where they weren't letting me sleep but they were tolerable so while Chris slept I laid and watched Glee through Hulu. 

After 10 hours my contractions were getting so strong that I began to cry and loss control of a breathing pattern. Going into labor I had no negative feelings towards getting an epidural but wanted to hold off as long as possible not knowing how strong the pain would actually be. I tried for one more hour to endure the contractions but between only going off an hour of sleep, being terribly hungry and already laboring for 11 hours and not knowing how much longer I was going to have to do this (I was not being checked to see how far along I was since my water completely ruptured. The doctor did not want to risk introducing bacteria), we decided it was time to get an epidural because if I continued to try and work through the contractions I was going to have no energy for delivery. I needed rest. The anesthesiologist had previously visited and told me that if I wanted an epidural that he would much rather have me opt for one before I was feeling in desperate need, I think I was walking the fine line of that when he finally came. At that point, getting that epidural was the most overwhelming 30 seconds of my life. Everything was happening so fast, I was experiencing an extremely painful contraction, I was delirious from not sleeping and extremely weak from no sleep and no food. At one point he asked me if I felt any stinging and where. All I could moan/yell was yes and when he asked me were I was so flustered because I had no idea how to tell him, so I just yelled that to him, "I don't know how to tell you!" He said legs or back, I said back and apparently that was the right answer. Once I got the epidural they said I would feel the pressure of the contractions but not the sting of pain. They gave me 10 minutes and checked back in with me. I was still feeling pretty painful contractions. At that point he said he had something else for me and gave me a dose of a different pain med. I told Chris I was going to look it up, he told me not to so I didn't. I can't remember what it was but I have no regrets taking it! It was with the help of that little drug that I managed to get some rest! Praise the Lord. I was actually more nervous for the catheter that comes with getting an epidural. I remember starting to cry over just the thought of getting one after the ep. At one point I asked Chris if it was in yet, he looked at me surprised and confused, "oh yea, she finished it a little bit ago." Guess that worrying was for nothing! 

Seven hours after receiving the epidural and the other nice little dosage of something special I was starting to feel contractions again on my left side. I tried pressing the button to release more epidural but that wasn't work. The contractions began getting stronger and reaching the pain level of what they were when I decided to get the epidural. My nurse called the anesthesiologist back in to give me another dosage of that other stuff. He wanted me to know that I was in labor and wasn't going to be completely comfortable... I understood where he was coming from but it rather frustrated me since I have never been one to opt for painkillers. Yes, I have never been in labor but neither has he and I was far beyond just feeling uncomfortable. I actually began throwing up because of the pain... They were also hesitant to give me some more drugs because they didn't know how far along I was but since it was their job to make this process as bearable/tolerable as possible he gave it to me. Well, it didn't work. Things continued to progress at a very intense rate! The anesthesiologist came by and gave me one more dosage at my approval but was concerned that if I was far along, I might be too numb to push appropriately. I didn't know what else to do because I was convinced I probably wasn't that far along and their was no indication as to when my doctor was going to come by and check me and because they too had no idea how far along I was or how long it was going to be yet they gave me the 3rd dose. 

Soon after getting the 2nd and 3rd round of drugs my doctor stopped by, checked me, and informed me that I was dilated to a 10 and at a plus 2 (plus 2 refers to the location of the head, the range being negative 3, negative 2, negative 1, 0, plus 1, plus 2, plus 3 and plus 3 means the head is showing), I was extremely far along! After telling me where I was at he calmly told me it was time to start pushing. I just remember saying, "now?!" I had the same sort of dilution I had when my water broke, is this really happening? 

I had huge regrets getting that 2nd and 3rd dose of the alternative drug once I started pushing. But no one had any idea how far along I was. The reason why none of the drugs were working was because my body was just laying there having the baby! I could have started pushing sooner if we had known and there were a few times I though I felt what they said was the indicated of 'baby coming' (the feeling of needing to have a bowel movement) but it would go away. The extra drugs, on top of being completely exhausted from laboring for 18 hours at this point after only one hour of sleep the night before, made it nearly impossible for me to lift my torso and legs up. I required a lot of help from Chris, the nurse, and my sister-in-law to push through the contractions. The nurse had me try four different positions to push in but in the end we went back to the first. Some helped me to push harder but exerted too much energy that was not focused on the pushing. At one point while trying all the different positions I started spiraling, screaming and crying about how I couldn't do it any more and that I give up... The nurse became really stern with me and her along with Chris and Sarah made me snap back into it. In between contractions I felt like I passed out and there were several times Chris and Sarah actually thought I did. After two hours the doctor informed me that he suspected I still had quite a bit of pushing ahead of me, that I would tear, and that the baby's heart rate was dropping a bit. At this time he offered an alternative path of having an episiotomy and using a vacuum. Chris really respected how he present the choice to me because he was very neutral in his delivery. I had no idea what to do, I was so overwhelmed and I'm a terribly indecisive person to begin with. I turned to both Chris and Sarah and both of them gave me the same look and assured me that choosing to have an episiotmy would be the best choice, "it's time" is what I remember Sarah telling me in an extremely loving, cool, calm, collective way. Once I told the doctor I would do it he said the baby would be here in no time. I cannot believe how fast my doctor was scrubbed up with extra help surrounding him! I found a lot of strength and motivation in being told the baby would be here soon with the medical incision. During the first contraction post episiotomy rather than pushing 3 times for 10-15 seconds I pushed 8 times! When I was going for the 9th push my doctor told me to stop because he know I wasn't having a contractions and that I needed to rest between. It was during the following contraction at 8:04pm that our son was born! And no vacuum was ever needed.

Sarah was the perfect addition to my birthing team. Her and Chris couldn't have been better! So blessed to have this girl in my life! And a sister to boot!

The sky the night Gabriel was born.
I vaguely remember the doctor putting Gabriel on my chest. I was so exhausted and just relieved to be done pushing. I laid their dazed and shaking. Because Gabriel was born 9lb 1oz (despite being 20.5" long and being the son of a mother who is 5' 11'' and a dad who is 6' 3'') he was immediately taken away for all sorts of testing for diabetes in addition to the GSB. Chris left with the baby, Sarah followed to take pictures and inform the family, the nurses all left and there I was, completely alone in the room trying to wrap my mind around what had just happened. I called my mom and dad to pass the time. It was about an hour from birth until Chris and baby came back into the room. Family that was outside were all extremely eager to come in and meet the baby but I still needed to feed and I wanted a touch of time holding my newborn son before he was passed around. In the moment in all honesty I just wanted everyone to go home and come back and meet him in the morning. I was just so extremely tired and overwhelmed and already protective of our baby, I didn't really want to share him with everyone just yet. I spent 9 months housing him, and just finished laboring with him for 20 hours, I wanted to be selfish. Fortunately everyone was extremely respectful of our space, said a quick hello and goodbye, and it was indeed nice to be surrounded by love. 

Once family left a nurse took me through how to care for my post labor body and tidied up our room. We thought at this point we'd finally be able to sleep but no... Another nurse came in to start showing us all the different ways to hold a baby and all the different ways I could nurse. I was getting more and more agitated. I understood that she wanted to help but why couldn't we just use what we knew for that evening and revisit different methods in the morning? Once that nurse left we finally began to settle in for rest and then a different nurse came in to prick Gabriel's heel to squeeze blood out for his blood sugar tests (because he was a "big" baby...) This is how our first night went. As soon as Gabriel would be calmed down again from pricks he'd be fussy for food, Chris would then calm him down again and then he would need a prick again. At one point in the early morning we looked at each other and asked, "can we really do this?" We felt so broken down and beaten. 

Fortunately every night since has gotten a touch easier. We wound up having to stay in the hospital for an additional night because of the GSB. Overall our stay at the hospital was exceptionally well. The food was great and the nursing staff was very sweet and helpful (when they weren't trying to show us how to feed and hold a baby in the middle of the night after things just calmed down from delivery...). The only frustrating part of the whole experience that sticks out in my mind is the photography company the hospital has available called Bella Baby. At the beginning of my laboring I was walking the halls in between my penicillin. While I was limping and breathing through my contractions one of their photographers would cheerfully comment on how I was 'running' the halls. I just wanted to give her the death stare and tell her to shut up. After baby was born, on Thursday morning that same woman came barging into my room talking about her business and how it is completely free, unless of course you actually want some of the prints. Before we really had a chance to say no she said she would come back later since I was feeding. She didn't come that day but rather waited until Friday, the busiest day at the hospital for us. I lost count of all the people coming in and out of our room to poke, prod, and check out Gabriel. He gave blood from his heal 3 or 4 more times, had his heart checked, hearing tested, looked over by a pediatrician, had a session with a nurse specialized in breastfeeding, and other specialists I cannot remember right now. All this was in addition to the routine vital checks we both went throughout the day. We finally had a little quiet time where Chris told me to take advantage of by sleeping. Just as Gabriel and I fell asleep little miss loud and chipper Bella Baby photographer came busting into our room loudly announcing herself! I was turned away from her, I didn't sit up to acknowledge her, but my body tensed up with great frustration. After her grand entrance she shouted, "oh is she sleeping?!" From the position I was laying I could see Chris's face, he was struggling to hold his composure, super aggravated. He pointed to the door to talk to her outside. At this time Gabriel woke up too, Chris came back in and shortly after our room became a revolving door once again. The worst part of the whole photographer thing is that our nurse had previously told the gal to not bother us, that we were not interested. Grrr. 

Around 5 o'clock on Friday we were discharged from the hospital. We walked out of our room, past the desk of nurses, down the hall, out the door to the reception desk to turn Chris's badge in. They saw the baby and immediately with concerned faces asked us if we were leaving. When we said yes they looked even more frazzled and asked, "where is your nurse?!" Apparently we were supposed to be escorted out by a nurse. Oops. We walked by a whole counter of them though... Before heading home we had to make a quick trip to Costco to pick up a few groceries and my pain killers. It was over 90'F outside so I stayed in the car with the air conditioning running as Chris tried to get in and out of Costco in record time. 

It felt great to be home. We slept with Gabriel in our room that first night because of the heat. He was a champ and has done fabulous since. Now 6 days old he has thus far been a super content baby. He fusses when he is wet, hungry, or needs to be burped more. Every night he has provided us with one good stretch of sleep ranging from 3.5-4.5 hours long. Nursing has gone well and continues to get better. I myself am feeling wonderful as far as healing goes. Chris sums up his feelings of our new life in one simple word, joy. We're off to a fabulous start together as a new family of three and I (finally) couldn't be happier about our decision to have me take a year off. It is amazing how quick as a parent you fall in love with your newborn and how nothing in the world is as valuable or precious. Our life is such a blessing from above. God is good.


  1. What a WONDERFUL story! I am so happy for both of you. Enjoy each and every day and make sure (of course you will) journal it daily cause it goes fast. I can't believe that my little grand daughter Bella is over a year old already. That baby stage is so precious and the memories will last forever. Bless both of you and of course your wonderful, new baby. The journey begins...

  2. Lena, you are amazing. Congrats to you and Chris, and welcome to Gabriel!


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