May 21, 2010


i loved kirby's entry about her labor and delivery so much that i decided to do my own! thanks for the inspiration, friend. :)

shepard slaten was due to enter the world on tuesday, may 25. but i kept telling people that i really thought he was going to be early. i didn't know why, and i still don't know why. maybe it was just a 50/50 chance of being right about it. maybe i just KNEW. but he was early indeed. he was born at 11:44PM on wednesday, may 19. HOORAY! it was quite a journey getting him here.

all my life, i've always joked with people saying that the minute i go into labor, i'm going to shout out joyfully, "bring on the drugs!!!" but as soon as i actually was pregnant, my thinking changed, and i'm not sure why. i really wanted to labor naturally for some reason! chris and i took a childbirth class at the hospital. the first night we watched a video of a birth - ALL the details included - and i told chris on the way home to go ahead and check me into the looney bin - that i STILL wanted to go natural, even after seeing the video. there was just something about the way that the diagrams of what the mother's body does and what the child does during the labor process that screams out "GOD MADE YOU TO DO THIS!!!" and while, yes, even with an epidural, my body and his little body would still be actually DOING what God created us to do, i just wanted to do it naturally. for some reason.

anyway, i was on the fence about it since i had been so gung-ho about epidurals my whole life and just not sure if i could handle going through it naturally. when i talked to dr barker about it, he said, "i will tell you one thing. if you decide to go naturally and you wind up getting an epidural, you simply cannot think of yourself as a failure. so many of my patients do that." best advice EVER. i also heard from everyone and everywhere that i must remain flexible about the laboring process b/c it rarely goes exactly as planned. so as the day grew closer, i had a flexible mindset about the whole thing.

chris and i ran across "the bradley method" of laboring along the way, and that's the route we wanted to go. in a tiny nutshell, it's all about focusing on relaxing and breathing normally and letting my body just do its thing. it's also very "coach" oriented, so chris had to be knowledgeable - almost moreso than me - about the whole process too. we practiced a whole bunch of relaxation techniques, learned about the stages of labor and how to tell when i was in which stage, etc. we were planning to labor at home as long as possible and really be in tune with which stages and phases of labor my body was passing through when.

until tuesday night, may 18, at 11:45PM - that's when my water broke. all day that day, i had been having braxton hicks contractions as usual, but this time they weren't quite so painless. sometimes i even had to stop what i was doing and sit down. nothing was taking my breath away - they just felt like regular ol' "lady" cramps. no big deal...but i worked on finishing up our hospital bags. just in case.

so that night, right when i laid down to go to sleep, i started to have another painless braxton-hicks contraction and i said to myself, "here goes another one" - nothing out of the ordinary there. but then i felt a huge and sharp POP in my abdomen. it wasn't painful. just a pop. my eyes shot open and i laid there for a minute. when nothing happened, i thought it was nothing. but a few minutes later, i said to chris from the bathroom, "yeah, i'm pretty sure my water just broke." to which he replied with a loud and hearty, "HAHAHA!!!!" and flipped the lights on!!! adrenalyn rush for both of us for the rest of the night!!!

i will say that after the initial excitement wore off, i shouted out, "SERIOUSLY???? this means we're losing a full night's sleep!!!" since we were JUST laying down. bummer.

we called our doctor who knew how we wanted our labor to go and was totally supportive, and he told us we had to be at the hospital in no more than 6 hours. when your water breaks, apparently there's an increased risk of infection since that barrier to the baby is broken, so they want you in the hospital asap. so much for laboring at home. bummer.

so we finshed up packing like chickens with our heads cut off, and feverishly tried to finish reading some of the bradley book. at one point chris came into the bedroom, left the bedroom, came back into the bedroom, all the while with a huge smile on his face saying, "what am i doing? what am i doing? i don't know what i'm doing..." he wasn't at ALL the frantic idiot father from television. he was the adorable, excited father!! it was SO cute. i loved it.

around 1:30AM or so, we laid down and tried to sleep, and we actually succeeded for a bit. i had a few sort of painful contractions, but nothing too awful, and nothing regular at all. around 4AM, we started getting the car ready. we got to the hospital at about 6AM, and they put us in a room so they could check to make sure my water had indeed broken, since i didn't have the proverbial GUSH. sure enough, it was broken. so they checked me in. dr barker showed up around 9AM (10 hours after my water broke) and gave us the news that, since i hadn't had any kind of regular contractions, he would have to start me on pitocin. really? are you sure? pitocin? dangit. i appreciated him so much though b/c his attitude towards us was like he was breaking bad news to us since he knew that it was not what we wanted. see, pitocin skips over all the first stages of labor and throws you straight into transition labor. that's the stage where your contractions are SUPER strong and SUPER close together. it's supposed to last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and comes after many hours of manageable labor. and the thing that's supposed to be the driving force to get you through transition labor is that it comes right before pushing, so you're basically done when the labor is at its most painful. but not with pitocin. bummer.

after we were in the labor and delivery room, jency showed up, camera in hand. i wanted her to be in the room with us so she could take pictures since i wanted pictures but didn't want chris to be worrying about taking them. she was amazing!! it was so so so great to have her in there the whole time. she even helped coach me through for a while when chris went to get lunch. talk about a best friend!!

so around 10AM or so, my induced contractions started. they were 2 minutes apart and ridiculously painful every time. the part that made it so unbearable was that the pain was in my back most of the time instead of my tummy, and i just wasn't ready for that. but chris was the most amazing coach i could have ever asked for. every time a contraction would come on, he would go through the scripts the bradley book taught us, and it always calmed me down and reminded me how to make it through. he was a rock star!! i seriously could not have done it without him. but after a few hours, things literally started going blurry and i almost couldn't breathe at all, let alone breathe normally and deeply through each contraction. when you're in transition labor for hours with the end not being close, you start to lose your mind!!

around 1PM or so, i decided i could not handle it anymore, but i was only 2cm dilated - which was just a joke!! contractions like this are supposed to be happening when you're 7-9cm and helping you round the corner to the finish line!!! so i begged my nurse to give me something. anything. which i had said initially that i would NOT do since anything that goes in my IV reaches the baby. but i had suddenly decided that he would be just fine. :) so i got something - don't remember what it was - that made me blissfully sleepy and i was totally and completely passed out - think, vivid dreams and deep sleep - in between contractions. still 2 minutes apart!! the pain wasn't any better, but i could at least rest a bit between them, which was SUCH a gift since i hadn't slept at all the night before. jency and chris were laughing at me b/c i was so loopy and would ask questions, and then fall asleep, and then have a contraction, and then ask if i had asked a question, and then fall back asleep. this lasted for about 2 hours.

the next time my nurse checked me, she said i was 5.5cm, and i literally screamed, "EPIDURAL!" one of the main reasons i didn't want one was that they insert a NEEDLE into your SPINAL COLUMN literally WHILE you're having CONTRACTIONS. seriously? good lord, no thank you. but jency and chris said that every contraction i was having, i was being super still anyway. and my wonderful coach was helping me so much with my breathing that it was making them more bearable, that i thought maybe i could handle being still. chris was supportive of me getting the epidural, too, even though it wasn't in the plan. things just weren't working out for me to be able to "bradley". so i asked my nurse if the anesthesiologist was new or in training, and she laughed. he's apparently been doing it for something like 30 years and he's the best in town. bring him in!!!!! enter: steve.

i seriously considered naming my child after him. he was so wonderful. gentle. kind. professional. amazing. and he gave me wonderful, beautiful, glorious drugs. the nurses kept telling me that i had the perfect epidural, too, since i could still move my legs but not feel contractions. hooray! after the epidural took effect - around 4PM - i had my mind back and i could concentrate on what was happening, and most importantly, rest. with the amount of non-sleep i had had, i needed to rest so i had enough energy to push!! it was truly the best decision EVER. if i had had normal labor and not transition labor for 6 hours, who knows. i may have been able to handle it. but the pitocin...whew. it changed the game. bummer.

so my body contracted and did it's job for a few hours. i asked dr barker when we would have to start thinking c-section since my water had been broken for so long, and he said if i hadn't progressed well after about 20 hours of the water breaking they would have to consider it. shoot. that hour was coming up fast. but the good news was that i WAS progressing. slowly, but still progressing. around the hour where i was afraid he was going to wheel me out to cut me open, he gave me an antibiotic instead. hooray! something actually might go according to plan for us!!

while i had the perfect epidural, i could feel just the tiniest little bit of pain on my left side with each contraction. then it expanded to my back. it wasn't bad enough to even have to breathe through. but after about 4 hours, it did get a lot worse. so i asked the nurse to "up" the meds. steve came back and i told him that i liked how i could move my legs. he looked at me with his kind eyes and a smile and said, as he increased the medicine, "sorry. you can't have both..." and i felt the cold of the medicine running through the line. *sigh* oh well. so from then on, my lower body was deader than dead. you know how your lip feels when you get it numbed for the dentist? it feels all swollen and huge and you're like "what is THAT???" when you grab it? that's how my legs felt. it. was. so. weird.

i don't remember the exact times with the exact cms. all i know is that every time he came to check me, i was only a tiny bit more than the last time. the real kicker was that around 9PM, i was 9 cms. hooray! pushing to begin soon! he came back at 10:00 and i was so excited. but he literally said to me, "nine and a half..." NOOO! good grief. but i did finally make it to 10cm around 11PM, and my nurse paige - who was the most AMAZING person EVER - asked if i wanted a mirror, and i actually hesitated for some reason. but she said, "no, you want a mirror. i'm going to get you one." WOW. it was SOOOO amazing to watch.

after about 40 minutes of pushing, shepard walker slaten was born into the world at 11:44 PM - 23 hours and 59 minutes after my water broke. and his daddy got to catch him! chris said it was the most amazing thing he's ever done. it was so unreal to see this alien-looking, living creature come out of my body. seriously God??? you are SO stinking creative!!!!

after shepard was cleaned up and things had calmed down a little, dr barker was standing by the bed and asked if he could pray over us. are you kidding me? yes! so he did, and when he got to the part about the creation of life being such a miracle, he said it always overwhelms him, and he choked up a little. UNbelieveable. he delivers babies all the time, and yet he still gets overwhelmed by the miracle that God allows us to be a part of. LOVE HIM.

one of the coolest little serendipities about my labor story is that one of my dear friends who had moved back to chattanooga about 6 months before, delivered the same night in the room right beside mine! little molly was due the week before me, and since she was late and shepard was early, they have the same birthday!! talk about a sweet addition to such a miracle of a night.

a word about parkridge east. if i had created a world where i labored and delivered with the perfect hospital staff, it would had been RUBBISH compared to how we were treated. chris keeps calling it "disney world service" because it was above and beyond amazing. everyone - EVERYONE - was so kind, considerate, patient, professional, you name it. usually in situations where you're dealing with lots of different people and any kind of service, at least one person or experience will be below par. but not here. i told chris i wanted to have another baby as soon as possible just so we could go to parkridge east again. seriously!! the cherry on the top is that last week, we got a card in the mail from parkridge congratulating us on our new baby, and ALL of my nurses (we were there so long we had 4 or 5 different ones...) signed it, along with dr barker. are you kidding me????? so if you're reading this and you're going to have a kid and you're thinking about going somewhere else, don't!!! go to parkridge east!!!!!

sorry if this seems a bit choppy...trying to type the story out over the course of several days, in between feedings and naps makes it a bit hard to make it consistent. speaking of feedings, little guy is waking up hungry!! :)


Blogger Kirby Lynn said...

1) GREAT job! Who wouldn't have gotten an epidural?!
2) I want Dr. Barker to deliver my next baby. I like him (:
3) I had crazy loopy dreams/sleep too. HA! Imagine if we had been put together while acting loopy :D
4) Love you! Love Shepard!

8:22 AM  

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