Saturday, May 18, 2013

Birth Story: Colton Sterling Ritter

As I sit to write this birth account, I tear up a little, looking down at my sweet son fast asleep on my chest secured by the his Moby wrap.  It was just a few short weeks ago that he lay in that same closeness inside my womb in no hurry to ever leave that wonderful place… but I’m so glad he changed his mind on Saturday April 13, 2013

Random contractions began on Monday- I was 4 days overdue.  I coincidently had a doctor’s appointment that morning.  I felt fortunate to actually be experiencing something while at the office.  A strong contraction had me pressed to the wall in the elevator.  Maybe after all this waiting, today would be the day?  Ultrasound showed plenty of fluid and a happy baby.  Dr. said she wanted a non-stress test done but hopefully she would see me sooner, although I was still dilated to 1cm.  Before I left she said “oh there was one thing I wanted to review about your birth plan.”  We discussed my wishes regarding an emergency C-section.  I laughed it off, as did she, in a professional way- thinking aloud that I wasn’t a likely candidate but you just never know.  Little did I know, I would be so grateful we had that conversation.

Colton’s non-stress test was strong.  I had a friend drive me to the hospital and back seeing that my contractions were very uncomfortable and irregular.  Colton performed well during contraction and passed all the requirements of the test within three minutes of the 30 min test.  Show off.

Contractions continued over the week- ranging from 1 hour apart to 15 min apart.  Some were mild, some were intense.  I was surprised by how good I felt in-between them.  When I pictured early labor, I thought I’d be handicapped.  This was a pleasant surprise.  It was more my depressed spirit and my increasing fatigue that began to eat away at me.  How long would my body contract for?

Friday April 12, at 12pm things started
getting real.  I was actually able to time them.  They lasted about 45-60 seconds long and were about 10-15 min apart.  I took a total of 5 walks around the neighborhood in 7 hours.  Anything to keep ‘em coming.  Each walking pace got slower and slower.  My parents had just opened a bottle of wine with dinner when I called them around 7pm.  “I think you guys might as well make the drive,” I didn’t want them driving in a panic at 3am, better for us all to get some sleep before.  I could hear dad pouring his recently poured glass back in the bottle “I guess we’ll cork it.”  Ironic words, I can now smile about looking back.

I hated laboring at night.  I would sleep between contractions but then hop out of bed to lean over and sway holding my pillow to pass them.  My husband had been timing the contractions, but we decided that if they got close enough together, I would not be nodding off.

I had had several friends tell me how thirsty they were after they checked into the hospital and this particular labor and delivery aloud no food/drink- only ice chips.  Being the hydrator I am, I had been drinking ALL day and night, as if it would be my last.  This had me up using the bathroom every 10 minutes as well.  No wonder I didn’t get any sleep that night.

By morning, my contractions were around 9 min apart.  We decided to go about my “house list” while I labored.  Dad had requested a list of things to do, assuming I would be at the hospital a while.  So while I was in and out of the tub/on and off the exercise ball, Chris and my dad were on the roof, fixing sprinklers, planting in my garden and labeling the electrical box.  The electrical box was hilarious- I would yell out “timer” when a contraction started and whoever had their iPhone handy and was near, timed the contraction.  My mother was cooking her heart out in the kitchen, preparing meals for the week to come. Mind you, the electricity kept going on and off- hollering out which room.

At one point, the men crafted a bar table out of a pallet in the back yard for our patio.  Something I had pinned excitingly on Pinterest, but in the current moment, I was not up for giving an opinion on anything.  I told them “I trust your work.  I just need to get in the tub.”  So while they drilled and hammered away, I competed with the sounds as I low moaned through contractions about 7 minutes apart.

After about 2 hours, and a bottle of Gatorade, I had an hour worth of contractions 5 minutes apart lasting at least a minute long.  It was go time.  I remember Chris coming in laughing saying “you’re not gonna believe what your father just asked me.”  Dad had kindly offered to split his plate, as he is often accustomed to doing, with me- the girl in the tub, yelling, hardly holding down Gatorade.  Bless his heart.  No time for dinner, Dad, it was time to get to the hospital.

My biggest fear was Labor and Delivery sending us away because I hadn’t dilated enough.  I had worked too hard and WAY too long for that.  The 5 min contractions supposedly gave me a good shot at being at least at 3cm.  It was about 6pm and I was so tired, I could hardly stand up straight.  The contractions were coming on strong and steady.   The nurse checked me and I was at 4 cm.  Praise God.  We were staying.  Dad kissed me good-bye, heading home to do more chores while I labored away.  Mom and Chris were going to be there for the birth.

My nurse, Kendal was a gem from the beginning.  We walked to our room.  After getting settled, requesting a birthing ball, and enduring a few contractions Kendal asked that I stay on the table for a bit as Colton’s heart rate had just dropped.  They gave me oxygen and I had to lay uncomfortably on my back while he recovered.  My hands hurt from squeezing through contractions.  Colton seemed fine, so they “let me off leash” and let me do as I please.  Kendal even offered me juice?!  JUICE?  I had be warned there would be no such thing.  What a God send!  I shut right up and said “yes, cranberry” the closest to a (virgin) cocktail I could get. Ha, what a day I had had. The contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart; I was trying to stay focused.

Around 9pm they called my doctor.  I was still at a 4, barely a 5.  I was getting so tired.  We decided to have her come and break my water.  This was quite uneventful, and nothing like I had prepared for.  My doc seemed surprised to the lack of fluid as well.  She said Colton’s head was wedged down so tightly by the contractions that there was hardly any fluid able to break through.  She reported him to be like a cork in a bottle.  I immediately thought of telling my parents I was pregnant at Sterling Vineyard, doing the gender reveal in an Auburn tasting room and revealing his name on our anniversary in the Amador wine country.  Of course Colton was like a cork.  The kid was practically born in a vineyard.

After the attempted water break, things got intense.  As I breathed through the swells of contractions, my mom’s eyes got big, watching the little meter go off the charts.  Were these “transition like” contractions?  1-1 ½  minutes apart, long and hard, I didn’t know any different.  There was another slight drop in heart rate and they put me back on the bed for monitoring.  I began wondering how much more I could handle.  I had come this far without the epidural.  I had told myself that if I decided to get it, it would not be out of fear, but out of fatigue.  My doc and nurse were so complimentary, but I didn’t feel as great as they reported me to be doing.  Chris asked mom to leave the room.  He grabbed my hands and told me he believed in me and in whatever I decided that I needed.  He knew I was struggling.  Kendal checked me again, and I was still at a 5.  Unbelievable.  It was around 10:30pm.  I looked at Chris and told him I wanted to do epidural.  I felt a peace about it.  Whatever peace looks like in that state, I felt it.   It was that peace that allowed me to remain awake and aware of what would happen next.

Lucky for me, the anesthesiologist on duty that night was apparently “a chatter.”  Kendal assured me it would just be another minute.  Every time she returned to my room, she got more set up for him, knowing I was growing anxious.  It seemed like an eternity.  How in the world was I supposed to sit like this and contract every minute?  Kendal told us that as soon as he came in to get straight to business- no small talk, cause this guy was known for that.  Odd if you ask me- what laboring woman wants to chit-chat?  Sure enough, as I was doubling over in pain he wanted to discuss my medical history, and do so painfully slow.  I remained a step above rude, but far from classy.  It was 11:20pm and too many contractions later.

Around 11:30pm I was just beginning to feel the edge of relief.  Kendal was at my side watching the magnitude of the contractions.  She leaned over to my mother and said “in about 30 seconds, we’re going to have a team of nurses enter the room.”  So calm and collected.  I didn’t bat an eye at this comment.

She wasn’t kidding.  Within seconds I was being contorted, moved, propped, probed, and injected with God knows what to stop my contractions.  With an oxygen mask on my face, I looked up at my mother and Chris, who stood back in disbelief.  “Kendal, what is going on?”   She explained quickly that Colton’s heart rate had dropped too low for too long and it was time to get him out.  He was highly distressed due to the contractions and was stuck, going nowhere fast.

The doors flung open, and they ran me down the hallway.  I remember my mother saying “he’s gonna be okay honey.”  I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, to us.  I hadn’t planned on this at all.  And here I was, being ran into walls, trying to get me to the OR as fast as possible.  Chris had been thrown scrubs and my mom had been left in the laboring room amidst the triage scene.  She tried to be helpful by putting Chris’ hair net on him, to which he kindly corrected her with his shaking hands that maybe the scrubs should go on first.  Mom called Dad who was back at home working on my “list” for him and told him he needed to get down there fast.

Once in the OR, I couldn’t count the number of people who had seemingly come out of nowhere who surrounded me for the game plan.  I remember thinking if they pull all the staff in here, who will deliver the other babies?  There were a few deep breaths from my Dr. and the surgical team.  Apparently Colton’s heart rate had recovered now that they had stopped the contractions.  We had a few minutes to make some decisions.  Chris came through the double doors dressed like the rest of the staff from head to toe, shaking uncontrollably somehow holding the camera.  One of the nurses took the camera from him and got him a chair.  I grabbed his face and told him I was fine.  Poor guy, seemed half way relieved, but we needed more information.

My doc explained that we could wait for the meds to wear off and try to labor some more, but she couldn’t guarantee Colton’s safety and if he dipped again, I would not have many options.  She recommended we be conservative and get him out pronto- as he, and my uterus, were very tired. 

I felt a peace again.  Chris could not stop shaking.  Ironically, I was shaking too, but not because of nerves but because of the medication.  We wanted our little boy out healthy- no matter the means of it.  I wasn’t going to think of my scar, the recovery, my next births- I just wanted to hear Colton’s voice.  He had been through enough, as had I. 

We gave her the word, and up went the curtain.  Amazingly enough, because I had chosen the epidural in those final moments before the chaos, they did not have to sedate me, but simply increased the epidural for surgery.  They honored my request to be hands free and to be walked through verbally each moment of the C-section.  There was some serious tugging and pulling.  Colton was out in three minutes.  His cry was piercingly loud.  Even the nurses tending to him raised their eye brows- “this guy has some pipes.”  The nurse handed Chris his camera back and encouraged him to meet his son.  Chris brought him to me within minutes.  His quivering lip peeking out of his burrito wrapped body.  I touched his face, he was precious.

My poor parents met him outside.  They were relieved to hear I was safe and Colton was out.  The trauma still fresh on their faces soon turned to joy.

In recovery, 15 minutes later, my 10cm incision was stitched up and Colton was placed on my chest where he nursed immediately despite my shaking from coming off the meds.  The kid was gonna eat no matter what.  I couldn’t believe my little boy was finally here.  While so much of Colton’s birth was unexpected, the drama and fright were worth the cost of meeting our precious boy.

1 comment:

  1. Whew--that's quite the story, Noelle. Much different, with the details included, than the Facebook portrayal. I'm grateful it had such a happy ending. :) ♥