Hello Sweet Cheer: The Birth of Benjamin Ryan

2.21.2018

The Birth of Benjamin Ryan

Hi there, friends! I am so sad that I've let this blog, my precious space, go onto the back burner for the last several months and really for the last year and a half. I love that I have my own little place on the internet and that I get to share what I choose to, for others and for my own memories. There's not a lot I love more than going back and reading old posts and seeing photos from special times in my life.

The last couple of years have been quite the whirlwind for my family, but I'll save all of that for another post. You're here because I'm going to write all about how our sweet Benjamin entered the world. If you haven't read my birth story of Titus' entrance, you can check that out here.



Due to the fact that I had an unplanned c-section with my first pregnancy, that meant if I wanted to have a vaginal birth for the second, I would have to fight for it. This is referred to as a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). When I got pregnant with Benjamin, I immediately began to research VBACs and do everything I could to educate myself on what it would take to have one. I had already started seeing my OBGYN that I had seen for my annual, for the pregnancy. I expressed my desire for a VBAC and while they said they were fine with me "trying", they were by no means supportive nor did they seem like they would advocate for my wishes when the time came. So, I did even more research and found an amazing doctor who has incredibly high rates of success with VBACs and is very supportive of women in my situation. I switched to him at 14 weeks.

My pregnancy went great, I had no issues at all and then we got to the very end... those last few weeks that always seem to be the most challenging. They challenge me physically, emotionally and spiritually. It's just hard to be so close to the end and then have to simply wait. We prayed and prayed that we would wait well. We prayed that the Lord would prepare and equip my body for a successful VBAC. We prayed that the birth experience would be one of redemption - that we might walk away from it feeling more cared for, more educated and more trusting of our providers than we did the first time around. As far as doing my part goes; I went to the chiropractor once a week, bounced on my yoga ball for almost 4 weeks straight, I did squats, I walked... trust me, I did everything I knew to do to prepare my body.


This pregnancy, I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions starting around 30 weeks. From about 37 weeks forward, they came much more frequently, lasted longer and started to become the slightest bit uncomfortable. My due date came and went and I really wasn't surprised by that. My labor with Titus started two days past my due date, so I expected something similar. At my 40 week prenatal visit, I was checked for dilation and still sat at a half centimeter dilated and about 50% effaced. We discussed what the plan moving forward would be, if I didn't go into labor on my own before my next visit. My doctor was completely comfortable with me going a few days over 41 weeks and wanted to go ahead and put an induction on the calendar for that time, for the sake of scheduling and hospital availability. We put it down for an overnight induction starting on the afternoon of Monday, February 5th. Even at the time of this appointment, I was still so convinced I would go into labor on my own any day. I went into labor on my own with my first, so why wouldn't it happen again?

I spent the weekend on pins and needles just PRAYING for that first painful contraction. I knew what it would feel like and I was ready to feel it. I had all kinds of Braxton Hicks and some annoying menstrual type cramps. And that was it. I got to 40 weeks and 4 days, and still had zero signs of true labor beginning. At this point, I called the nurse at my doctor's office and asked her if we could move the induction up to the day I turned 41 weeks. I was still hopeful that I would go into labor and not make it to the induction... but if you can tell where this is going, I didn't. My body just never showed any signs. I never lost my mucus plug or had any real contractions. The baby didn't "drop" as they say, even though many people told me I looked like he had dropped. I did not feel any of the things I felt before going into labor with Titus. And we were beyond ready to meet our baby.

Side note: I am fully aware that getting induced as a VBAC patient, raises your chances of ending in a c-section. At 41 weeks pregnant, having already been through labor with my first baby, I was willing to take that risk.

Thursday, February 1, 2018 (41 weeks)


Ryan and Titus and I attempted to spend the day as normally as possible. I was scheduled to go in for my weekly OB appointment, followed immediately by my induction at the hospital. The day was weird, to be honest. We kept talking about how odd it was that we were trying to have a normal day but we knew it was anything but normal!

We went downtown and had breakfast, for the last time as a family of three. It's now such a sweet memory that I hope will be etched in my brain forever! Titus enjoyed a few of his favorites: oatmeal, bananas, strawberries and orange juice! Then Ryan got his hair cut and we headed back home. We decided to take Titus somewhere fun so we headed to an indoor play place in Frisco for a few hours. He had a ball, as usual, and didn’t want to leave! When we got home, we knew it was go time. We needed to finish packing our bags, eat lunch, put Titus down for a nap, etc. I put Titus down at his normal time (about 12:45pm) and Ryan and I went to work on last minute to-dos around the house. It was so crazy to know that we were getting ready to leave our house for the final time without our new baby in our arms... and that the next time we would be home, we would have that sweet baby with us!

Titus didn’t sleep a wink... I guess he was pretty excited too! We got him out of bed and let him play and eat some lunch before my mom came over to pick him up. When it was time for him to leave, I knew I would get emotional. I hugged him and kissed him a million times until he just wanted me out of his face. We said bye to my mom and headed inside to grab the rest of our things and leave. I ran to our bedroom and just bawled. I cried and cried and cried and Ryan held me. I can’t explain the feeling very well - I didn’t want Titus to think we were neglecting him or that we didn’t love him or that we weren’t going to come back for him. I was afraid thinking about how Titus might react when he saw me or Ryan holding the baby for the first time. At the same time, I was so excited and truly over the moon knowing we were so close to finally meeting Benjamin, face to face. A mother’s love is truly something I still don’t understand even though it’s in me!

So we gathered ourselves and our things and headed down to our appointment!

It was a quick check, I was still just half a cm dilated (like I had been since 37 weeks). And that didn’t surprise me one bit because I had no signs of labor. They sent us straight over and we got into our room. The nurses at our hospital were incredibly sweet, helpful, and just so kind. They were all so supportive of me VBACing and said they loved my doctor and were so positive! I was feeling incredibly confident in my doctor and his ability to help me achieve the birth I desired but also confident in that if he said it was time to go for the c-section, I would trust that.

 

Around 5:30pm my doctor placed a balloon catheter (better known as a foley bulb) into my cervix to cause it to manually dilate. I had a little cramping right after which they said was to be expected, but that was about all until around 6:15pm. At that point, I started to have some tough contractions that were a bit sporadic but mostly around 10 minutes apart. Ryan made a dinner run, we had Jimmy John's, one of my all time favorites! We ate and watched multiple episodes of Flip or Flop until about 9pm when Ryan passed out and I attempted to go to sleep! With contractions starting, I knew it would be harder to get rest so I went ahead and took some Ambien to help me sleep. Those contractions lasted through the night as I tried to get as much sleep as humanly possible, knowing Friday would be THE day!

Friday, February 2, 2018 (41 weeks, 1 day)


My doctor came in and removed the balloon around 5:45am. It had been in for 12 hours and I was dilated to 5cm! Yay! I was so pleased that not only did the balloon work, but I had also been having true contractions all night. My body was responding really well to the induction. After my doctor removed the balloon, he broke my water and there was meconium staining (aka baby went #2 in my womb, so the amniotic sac filled with the staining of his poop). This is fairly common, especially later in pregnancy and after your due date, but it does present a little bit of concern. While it doesn’t mean baby is in imminent danger, it does mean that when it came time for delivery, the moments following his birth would look a little different than we had originally hoped. I would not get immediate skin to skin contact and my doctor may or may be able to let the baby’s cord finish pulsing before cutting it. This is because they would need to take him quickly over to the warmer to suction his mouth/nose to keep him from inhaling more meconium!

Of course I have to back up to the big picture and say, those things were completely fine with me if it meant making sure my baby was safe and healthy!

After my water was broken, my contractions intensified and got very close together. They were probably coming about every 4 minutes and I was having to breath pretty heavily through each one. I went ahead and asked for the epidural knowing it might take the anesthesiologist some time to get to me. About an hour after the epidural was placed, my contractions were "coupling" (two strong ones back to back, then a break, repeat) so my doctor ordered one unit of pitocin to see if that would regulate them. It did regulate them for a while, and I progressed to 6cm. They gave me one more unit of pitocin and I made it to 7cm! At this point we were all in great spirits, assuming we would have a baby by midday!



Around 11am, my contractions had weakened a bit and Benjamin’s heart rate was starting to become a concern. He would have a decel during a contraction and then it would come back up right after. That was okay, but then he started to sit consistently in the 170s and 180s when I wasn’t having a contraction, and he was still having decels during the contractions. I began to run a low grade fever at 99.8 degrees. They gave me an extra bag of fluid and oxygen and they gave Benjamin fluid through placing a tube into my cervix and then into the amniotic sac. This was to try to help bring my temperature down and help baby cool down and relax. It helped! It didn’t take long before he stopped having decels and his heart rate stabilized back down into the 140s/150s.

Through all of that I was checked again at some point and had made it to 8cm! I was feeling so good and positive and so ready to get to the pushing stage!

About 30 minutes after Benjamin's heart rate stabilized, the decels returned and his heart rate would jump to around 188 between contractions. At one point it jumped into the 190s for a few seconds. I started to get a little nervous, but still fully trusted the team of professionals who were taking care of us. Now these issues had been going on for almost 3 hours. My nurse (whom I LOVED) checked me again and I was still at an 8, but one side of my cervix was swollen. (My doctor said the swelling was probably just from my baby’s head, essentially banging against my cervix. Similar to getting a bruise or swelling if you banged your head against a wall over and over again). Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot that could be done about the swelling and time wasn't really on our side because of the issues with baby's heart rate.

My doctor came in and checked me himself and confirmed the swelling on one side and that I was still at 8cm. With the swollen cervix, my elevated temperature, baby’s heart rate/decels, the meconium in the amniotic sac... my doctor gently said it just didn’t seem like baby was going to come out the way we wanted him to. We talked through what options we had, and truly he would have done anything he could to help me achieve a vaginal birth, but there were too many factors to consider at this point. There wasn’t anything else he could do. That conversation was really hard and it was tough to keep it together when they were already starting to prep me. As they unhooked me from various monitors, I began to think through all that I was losing. I was losing my hope of seeing my baby's face seconds after he entered the world... my desire to have immediate skin to skin with my baby... my dream of achieving a successful VBAC, one that I had fought so hard for... and I couldn't help but cry. I was thinking, "Why do I know so many women who have vaginal births without any road blocks? What is wrong with me that my body just refuses to cooperate and function the way the Lord created it to? Why did we pray every day of my pregnancy for this VBAC and here I am being prepped for a second c-section?" Emotionally, it was really tough to process. I’m still processing it all, but I know this was the right call at the right time. I’m praising Jesus for keeping me and my baby safe and healthy through the entire process!


They gave Ryan his OR attire, finished prepping me and wheeled me over. The whole feeling in the room was different than my first. I felt safe. I knew my providers were respectful of my wishes and doing everything they could to fulfill them, given the circumstance. I wasn't nearly as exhausted as I was the first time, and I felt much more present because of that. They got me onto the table, brought Ryan and Lexie in and pretty quickly, got things going.



Our beautiful baby boy, Benjamin Ryan, was born at 3:36pm on Friday, February 2nd. Ryan was right there by my head just like last time, and once again, I was blessed that my medical team allowed a second person (my sweet friend Lexie) into the OR to photograph my son's entrance into the world. I truly feel so thankful to have such precious photos of both my boys' births. The moment my doctor pulled him out he immediately suctioned as much as he could, allowing the cord to continue pulsing and giving us as much delayed cord clamping as possible in our situation. He then raised him up, they peeled back the blue sheet and we got to see our boy through the clear sheet! I started bawling the moment I heard his big, loud, healthy cry! They took him to the warmer and I told Ryan to go over there to see him and be with him. Lexie was over there as well taking pictures. He was 10lbs, 1oz and 22 1/2 inches long! He beat his older brother by a quarter inch and almost 2 pounds. I was truly shocked when I heard them announce his size! I don't know how I carried him... but I think most of his weight came from his length!








Ryan carried him over to me so I could see him. He was all wrapped up and I just got to see his face and feel his cheeks on mine. I only had a few moments with him before Ryan went with him back to our room and they stitched me up.



During the procedure, my doctor let me know that my baby had been face up (just like big brother). AND the cord was wrapped around the back of his neck, crossing in front over his belly. Overall, once I learned baby’s size, that he was face up AND that the cord was what was causing the issues with his heart rate... I was even more confident in the direction my doctor said we needed to go in having the c-section. The rest of my experience in the OR and the post partum unit, was truly flawless. They were quick to finish up the surgery and I was fully aware of myself compared to being super out of it and falling asleep last time. Once we made it over to post partum, we had amazing care and truly just enjoyed the time we had with our baby. We didn't have any visitors except my parents and Titus, and it was glorious! We loved the privacy and rest we were able to have during those few days.









Seeing our sweet Titus meet his little brother for the first time was such a precious moment. I truly can't describe how full my heart felt. It's been quite the adjustment for such a little soul, he's just 20 months old, and the first few days at home were a struggle. But he has grown and changed and stepped right up into his big brother role over the past few weeks! And now we are just enjoying our new season of life as a family of four, and mama is getting used to daddy being back at work and being home solo with the two boys! I truly cannot believe we have two precious sons on our hands! I feel completely undeserving to be their mama. There is so much life that has happened in the past few weeks, and I'll definitely be posting more about it soon!

For now, we are so excited to introduce Benjamin Ryan! He is such a joy!

xoxo

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