Okay, I am kicking Shawn off blogger now. It is 2:20 am, and I am surprisingly more energized now that I had about 45 minutes of sleep!
Violet's labor and delivery was nothing like I expected at all. I would never have predicted that it would end in a C-section. We arrived at the hospital at 7am, and I was at 2 cm and 50% effaced. Because I am a carrier of the Group B strep infection, the first order of business was putting in an IV and getting some antibiotics in my system. About two hours later, they started my Pitocin to get the contractions going stronger and longer. Then Dr. B broke my water. By this time, I was at 3 cm and that's when the real fun began.
From the beginning, Violet was not happy with labor. At first her heart rate would go down with each contraction (below 100), then it started taking longer and longer for the heart rate to go back up. Dr. B thought Violet might be laying on her umbilical cord and compressing it with each contraction, so we tried various positions to get Violet off the cord. When that did not work, Dr. B started an amnio infusion, which means that she inserted a catheter into my uterus and started to put fluid back into the uterus. This provided more cushion for Violet, and her heart rate began to improve. At the same time, a pressure catheter was inserted to accurately monitor the strength of each contraction. This worked for a bit, and I dilated another centimeter to 4 cm. Then, once again, Violet's heart rate was acting up again. This time, not only did she have decelerations with each contraction, but in between, she became tachycardiac, and her heart rate would go up into the 180's. So this time, Dr. B inserted an internal fetal monitor to keep an exact eye on Violet's heart rate. By now, I had tubes and wires everywhere. It was becoming quite clear that my "natural" birth was going to be anything but. I was not allowed to labor in the tub or on the birthing ball. I was confined to the bed (which is exactly what I didn't want!).
Dr. B explained up front that if they could not get Violet's heart rate under control, then I would have to deliver by C-section. Definitely NOT in my birth plan, so I was willing to try anything. I spent over an hour on my hands and knees on the bed with the addition of giving me oxygen via mask to see how that would improve Violet's heart rate. Now after 10 hours of doing various things, I was still only at 4cm, and Violet really was not happy in any position. I had told Dr. B that I would stay on my hands and knees for hours and deliver that way, if I had to. But by now Shawn and I realized that a C-section was looking like the best option. After all, Violet's health and safety came first, no matter how the delivery went.
At 5 pm, we agreed to the C-section, and everything proceeded rapidly from there. I admit to being extremely nervous about this great unknown. Dr. B explained the procedure and recovery thoroughly (I love my OB and trust her implicitly - she has delivered all four of my children now). We joked about how I was going to have all the birth experiences possible, and now if I ever did have a fifth child, I could even experience a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean). Getting an epidural while in very little discomfort was also a new, unpleasant experience, but the anesthesiologist was wonderful. Very encouraging and supportive and kept me updated the whole time we were in the operating room. I know Shawn was very anxious as well, but he was strong and brave for my sake! (Thank you, honey, I love you!) The C-section was underway, and Violet Grace was born at 5:42 pm. Although it is still surreal to me that I actually underwent a C-section, when Violet was brought out of me, and I heard that first cry, that was as real as my other births. I cried and thanked God that she was finally here.
We are surprised at what a peanut she is - weighing in at barely 6 lbs, 7 oz. (she was technically 6 lbs, 6.5 oz) and measuring 18 inches long, she is smaller than Clare was at birth! (Who was 6 lbs, 8 oz and 20".) About an hour after birth, Violet's heart and respiratory rates were still high, and she was cold (her feet and hands were blue). That resolved over the next couple hours. Violet did have the cord wrapped around her body twice (and I think once around her neck), which explains her decelerations. Dr. B believes that there was no way Violet would have delivered vaginally because of this. So I am thankful we made the decision to have a C-section before I endured hours more of labor (especially on my hands and knees). This way, I do have a C-section recovery ahead of me, but I am not recovering from hard labor and pushing as well. Dr. B hypothesizes that the stress of labor at least contributed to the tachycardia, but is having my placenta tested as well to rule out any infection. We, of course, have asked over and over, and Violet has no heart murmur (not that I was expecting one, but you never know!).
Right now, I am extremely tender and starting to feel the soreness of the incision. The epidural will remain in my spine for a couple days, and I am receiving pain relief through that. I have developed the "itchies" (which, to me, feels worse than the incision right now) and have received a shot for that. I don't know what to expect from the recovery, but so far, it is all new. Not too bad yet, but everyone keeps telling me, "Just wait." Great!
Violet is in the nursery having her hearing test done, and I miss her already. A mommy's pride, but she is the most beautiful baby. She has dark hair, but not as much as the other three did. She looks like a mix of Jamie, Clare, and Simon - it's so amazing! And I couldn't believe it when Shawn told me she is tongue-tied as well. The pediatrician will look at her later today, but from what I can see, it actually looks like a worse tongue-tie than Clare's, and her tongue may actually fork like a lizard's when she sticks it out because the tie is all the way to the front of her mouth. Thankfully, this should be a simple procedure if she needs it released, since Violet does not have Clare's medical history. But, for right now, Violet is already nursing like a pro and prefers being in bed with me.
I am still in awe that our baby girl is actually here and in our arms. One of the benefits of the C-section was that my sister-in-law was able to bring the kids to the hospital an hour after Violet's birth so they could meet her. Already, Jamie cannot get enough of her and wanted to just sit and hold her. Clare was eager to meet Violet, too. She has not gotten to hold her yet because she was also so excited to see me. Simon, however, wanted nothing to do with me and clung to Auntie Becky. I have a feeling we're going to have a little bit of a rough adjustment down that road. Especially since I have an incision now and won't be able to do all Simon will want me to do.
We will definitely be in the hospital into the weekend now. Shawn is going to download the photos off the camera later (since it is 2 am, and he is actually sleeping), so I will post more photos! Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. We are ecstatic that Violet Grace has finally arrived, safe and sound.