Monday, March 10, 2014

The Birth of Brantley

Here is the final chapter in my surrogacy journey.  The birth of Brantley.  This could be triggering for some and I'm not leaving out any details so it is a bit raw.  If you are looking for a short version, everyone is ok, Brantley is a gorgeous little guy, the fathers are over the moon, and I'm recovering.Now on to the details.  On Saturday, June 22nd (38 weeks 2 days), I was asleep in the bed.  I hadn't been asleep that long.  Around 20 minutes.  A feeling woke me up and I thought I had peed myself so I barrel rolled off the bed.  At that point, there was a pop, and my waters broke everywhere.  I had never had my waters break before labor had started so this was a new one on me.  I stood for a couple of seconds gushing all over the place and then called Michael in.  We laughed a bit over the gushing and put a call in to D&E (using initials for the fathers privacy).  I asked them if they were ready to have a baby and I could hear their adrenaline spike.  E whoo hooed into the phone and said they were on their way.  I put a call into Amy our doula to let her know that my waters had broken but I didn't need her quite yet.  Michael packed our bags because even though I had talked about doing it, it just never happened.   We stayed home for a while letting the contractions start.  D&E went straight to the hospital to get me checked in.  Around 4am (June 23rd) things started to pick up and we decided to head on over.  We called Amy to tell her our plans, and then called the fathers to let them know we were on our way.  We got our girls up and ready because they wanted to be at the birth.  We got all checked in and into our room.  Contractions were coming every 5 minutes or so but were still pretty tolerable.  I had a vaginal exam and I was 4cm dilated upon check in.  I labored freely, moving around the room, sitting on the birth ball.  Labor seemed to be going very slowly.  3 hours later I had another exam and in that time I had only dilated to a 5.  The contractions started spacing further apart.  I tried to lay down for a while, but I couldn't get comfortable.  I dozed off and on while sitting on the birth ball.  I continued to labor for a while, but while the contractions were getting more intense, they weren't getting any closer together and had spaced out to about 10 minutes.  Fatigue started to hit pretty hard.  They checked me again that afternoon about 3pm.  I hadn't dilated any further and the baby was still high up.  At that point, I was tired and frustrated.   I went to the bathroom with Michael and cried a bit.  I didn't know what was wrong.  After 3 vaginal births that weren't that long or complicated, I felt like my body was failing me.  On top of that, I had two fathers who were counting on me and I felt like I was disappointing them.  At 6pm, I was checked again and I had made it to a 7 but the baby was still high up.  The baby's heartrate started to dip during contractions.  We thought it was just cord compression so I kept switching positions to see what worked best. We tried all of the techniques to get him to move down and engage but nothing seemed to work.  He just would not move down.  Around 6:30pm, I gave out.  I had been laboring almost 20 hours at that point, the contractions were intense, and I was completely exhausted.  I broke down and cried.  Hard.  I didn't know what else to do.  I felt like I had failed.  We all wanted this to go as naturally as possible, but I had reached my breaking point.  The OB on call suggested pitocin to see if that could get things moving a bit more.  I caved and agreed.  I just wanted it over.  I cried the entire time.  The fathers kept reassuring me that they would support any choice that I made.  I was hooked up to the pitocin and the contractions cranked up.  I continued to breathe through them.   The decels in the baby's heart rate started to get larger and more concerning.  They started to take some huge dips.  The OB came in and said she wanted to turn the pitocin off because of the decels.   She checked me again and after 2 1/2 hours on pit, I hadn't had any change and the baby was still high.   Around 9pm, we had a choice to make.  Continue trying to labor the baby down or cesarean.  The one thing I wanted to avoid the most.  We talked, I cried.  Michael cried.  The fathers cried.  I didn't feel like I had anything left to give.  I felt like a complete failure.  I agreed to the cesarean.  I labored some more while they got me prepped.  I was completely scared.  I hadn't ever mentally prepped for a cesarean and now that it was becoming a reality, I didn't know what to think.  I saw my peaceful natural birth going down the drain and I hated my body for it.  I knew that I couldn't go on anymore though.  They rolled me away to the OR.  I was still laboring with intense contractions but now I didn't have the luxury of getting up and moving around.  I was pinned flat on my back.  They got me up on the table and pinned my arms straight out to the sides.  I had lost all control.  I went under general anesthesia and was knocked out.  I awoke a little while later.  Some people were talking to me, but I don't remember what they said or what I said to them.  I was taken to the recovery room.  It is kind of foggy at this point.  I know that someone told me that the baby was ok, that I was ok, and something about drinking some water.  I passed out for a bit.  When I woke up, the fathers brought Brantley over to show him to me.  He was an absolute doll.  He weighed in at 6lbs 14oz and 19 inches long.  The doctor came in with another story though.  Somehow, Brantley had managed to tie a knot (also known as true knot) in his umbilical cord.  His cord was already short but the knot was preventing him from descending any further.  Every time he would move down, the knot would get tighter cutting off his oxygen supply.  So while I thought I was a failure, in reality, we made a very good call by going on with the cesarean.  Things could have gotten ugly very quickly and I'm very grateful that they didn't.  The fathers got a picture of the knot and I'm hoping to get a copy of it.  It has taken me a couple of days to process what happened, but I'm at peace with the turn of events.  I'm still a little disappointed that the birth didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped, but the end results were worth it.  The fathers are absolutely ecstatic and over the moon.  Watching their faces light up around their child makes all of the pain and disappointment worth it.  Words can't describe how awesome of a feeling that is.  They are going to be fantastic parents.  Welcome to the world baby Brantley!I've gotten a few questions that I'll try to answer now.  I've been asked how I feel about giving a baby up.  I don't feel that I have given a baby up.  This was never my child to begin with.  This was always their child.  I was just a long term babysitter.  I feel good though.  When I look at Brantley, I don't feel the emotional attachment that I did with my girls.  I see him with D&E and know that that is where he belongs.  I've also been asked if I knew what was going to happen in regards to the cesarean, would I have done it.  Hell yes, I would have.  Watching D&E with Brantley, the pure joy and happiness in their eyes, and knowing that I helped create that family is all well worth it.  What does a cesarean mean for future surrogacies?  I can't answer that one at this time.  I need to focus on recovering and healing before making any permanent decisions.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us through this journey.  I've been amazed and overjoyed at the love and support that I've gotten.  Thank you to Amy our doula for sticking around for the whole process.  Thank you to Richard and Bev for arriving just in time to help out with the girls.  I know it wasn't planned that way but your help was greatly appreciated.  Thank you to my awesome husband who was my fount of strength, even when I felt like giving up.  I couldn't have asked for a better partner in life.  He even spent his birthday in the hospital with me. Finally, thanks to my girls who have had to put up with their mommy being occupied over these last few months and not up to full mommy strength.  We'll go get ice cream soon! 

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