Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Story of Micah's Birth

I went to another OB appointment a week ago Thursday afternoon and they decided to induce me by breaking my water the following day. Phil and I woke up at about 4:30am on Friday, September 21st and took the strangest car ride of my life to Swedish Hospital on First Hill for a 6am induction. I was excited and nervous and imagined myself being as close to "preparing for battle" as I will ever get. We arrived to check in at the triage station and the nurses were a buzz from the night before. They said perhaps the weather is changing or something because the night before was crazy busy. Thus, we had to wait for a birthing suite for over two hours. They put me on the monitors, which showed that I was having contractions every two or three minutes (but I could barely even feel them) and the baby's heart rate was fine.

Not long after we arrived at the birthing suite, the doctor arrived and broke my bag of waters. I was amazed at how instantly I started feeling contractions and how quickly they became intense. At first I was able to just walk around the room and do lunges through contractions with only a bit of intensified breathing. But, I swear those contractions tried to kick my butt as soon as possible. I quickly was looking for another way to combat them. The nurse offered to fill up the tub for me and I figured that the time was as good as any (we were told in our six week birthing class that being in the tub or shower is the best way to lower the pain of contractions). I wanted the water cold though since every time a contraction hit, it felt like I had entered a sauna inferno. I couldn't quiet think of much else besides the pain and how on earth I would get through it. I was praying that the whole experience would be quick like both of my mom's labors (five hours total with me and less than an hour with my brother). I started getting annoyed that people describe contractions as coming in waves. When I think of waves, I think of how soothing the sound of them are and how calming the ocean is. These contractions were no calming soothing waves. They were more like getting hit by a train full force or being pounded by one of those hammers at the fair that try to knock out the cute little gophers that pop up, only I was the gophers and those damn contractions were in charge of that heavy duty hammer.  Finally in the tub, things became a little more routine. At least at that point I was understanding the nature of the beast a bit more and wasn't so completely surprised each time I got hit. During our classes when they taught us breathing techniques and had us think about what ways we might try to relax during contractions (haha), I had figured that I would kick each contraction in the butt by getting really vulgar and use profanity and yelling to get through them. I didn't think I would be the woman to physically hurt or yell at my partner, but I also thought there was that possibility. The way labor was described to us was that women truly become animalistic and completely not themselves during the process. Back in the tub, I began to think about those drugs. Yes, I had planned to do the whole thing heroically and naturally and was going to try not to even think about drugs, but seriously? If I got hit by a train or by some super hammer...would I not let doctors give me medicine or wouldn't I at least take some aspirin or something? So why would this situation be any different? I get a headache and I take something for it. I get an upset stomach and I take something for it. But, I get pounded by a 200 pound dumbbell of a contraction and I'm going to grin and bear it? I think not. Lucky for my self-righteous self though, before I could even begin to discuss drugs with the nurse, she got me out of the tub to check my cervix. When I had come in I had been at about 3 and a half to 4 cm dilated. When the nurse checked me, I was at about a 7 or 8 and that was only after about an hour or hour and a half of labor. I was so surprised that I figured wow...maybe I don't need drugs to get all the way to 10 (I wasn't thinking yet about the whole pushing process). So, back in the tub I went. The inferno kept getting hotter and hotter with each contraction, yet in between contractions, I felt like I had entered an industrial freezer and my body was shivering uncontrollably. I remember being concerned for Phil since he looked really uncomfortable kneeling next to the tub and I figured his comfort level could be adjusted as opposed to mine that was out of our control. Phil was a great encouragement telling me that I was doing good and the nurse was a great coach telling me to breath out the pain. I think that is what kept me going. I took that nurse so literally doing my best to capture all the pain of that contraction and squeeze it out my lips with all the force my lungs could muster up. I also began counting the seconds trying not to think of it in terms of a full minute or more.

Finally, after about ten more minutes back in the tub, things got real, real fast. Our nurse (who's name is Leia and who was absolutely amazing and wonderful and probably does not get paid her worth), instructed me to quickly move back to the bed to check me again. I'm not really sure all of the details from here on out since I guess I was pretty out of it and because everything happened so quickly. When I got to the bed, Leia said I was already at about 9cm, so I was thinking sweet! I can definitely do this! That's when she pressed the big button on the bedside saying urgently, "Page the doctor. Code blue" or something like that. Whatever she said led to about four other nurses or specialists instantly flooding the room. If people were rain, the room became quiet an intense thunder shower. At some point in the ensuing chaos, I believe someone let us know that the baby's heart rate had dropped. I remember Leia telling me not to worry, that there was still the possibility to do this thing naturally, but they were taking me to an OR just in case. Funny that I really thought that was still a possibility seeing that  even I noticed that the hoard of people wheeling me were going so quickly that the bed kept running into walls on the way there. They already had an oxygen mask on me and all of a sudden Phil entered my vision wearing scrubs! At that point I realized that I was going to have a C-Section. I hadn't even read any of the sections of my books on C-Sections or listened during that part of our class since I figured there was no way that would happen to me (I was going to have a quick easy labor just like my mom...remember?!). They started prepping me for surgery. I felt some kind of saranwrap like stuff being laid out on my lower belly and that's when I remember getting really nervous and asking the swarm of doctors and nurses if they were going to put me out. Finally I felt a funny tickling sensation come through the oxygen mask and I remember feeling relief more than anything else. I didn't have to deal with contractions anymore. I wasn't going to have to push. I wouldn't feel pain anymore.

When I woke up, I was back in the birthing suite. I could see Phil holding the baby and knew that everything was ok just like I thought it would be. I think they let me hold Micah at that point, but I was still foggy from the anesthesia. I couldn't understand why my jaw was sore and I couldn't clear my throat. I couldn't feel much of anything down by the incision and didn't really care that they did such a great job at stitching me up again so that I can wear a bikini again. I was shaking, shivering, and convulsing uncontrollably. At this point, Phil and Nurse Leia tried to take my bra off because it was still wet from the tub. Once they realized it had to go over my head, they decided just to cut it off me, and I remember both saying they would personally buy me a new one (although my memory is so fuzzy that I thought that whole process happened before the surgery and not after!). What a dumb little thing at such a crucial time, but that is clearer to me than anything else from the surrounding couple of hours. Aside from my convulsing body, I felt a sense of peace that our son was living outside of my uterus and that Phil was a dad! It took me a day or two to really realize that I am a mom now.

Phil says those few minutes that he was asked to step out of the OR were the scariest minutes of his life. He says he didn't know if his wife and son would live. I can't imagine being in his place during those moments. I can imagine his fear being right on par with the intensity of my last contractions. He said that someone finally opened the door for him to hear the wonderful and healthy sounds of Micah crying. When he entered the room he was still nervous about me since there I was intubated, eyelids taped shut, splayed out on the operating table. The doctor later said that they still have no idea why Micah's heart rate dropped. She said it was the worst looking tape for the best looking baby. He really did look amazing!

We've both been recovering nicely and getting to know each other. They had said that we would be in the hospital for three days, but I was doing so good they let us go Sunday afternoon instead of Monday. We are figuring out the feeding thing, the diaper changing thing, and the whole sleep routine (or lack there of). We've been to the OB's office for Micah's circumcision and the pediatrician's twice. Yesterday we started daily walks in the neighborhood again, which is so perfect since I am very close to getting cabin fever already with this whole staying home to recover from surgery thing.

So far, I am amazed at how natural it feels to be parents. Phil and I are so happy to have Micah in our lives. He is such a wonderful baby. I have learned so much already from this whole process. Here is a short list of some of my learnings:
  • Getting an IV doesn't actually hurt
  • Having a catheter is not as gross or painful as expected
  • The nursing staff at Swedish Hospital First Hill is blue ribbon quality
  • Go with the flow/roll with the punches/a change will do you good are all great cliches motto's to live by
  • Our parents make really wonderful Grandparents
  • Phil is the most amazing, caring, supportive, helpful husband. It is so cliche, but I truly am loving him more and more every day. I am beyond thankful for him.
  • I like being a mom so far: blow outs, spit ups, crying fits, sleep deprivation, and all
Thanks for sticking around for my longest post ever! If nothing else it was very cathartic for me, so thanks again!

Micah Howard Vrbas. Born Sept. 21st at 11:50am. 8 lbs 13 oz. 20 3/4 inches

Proud Daddy

Proud Mommy

Going home from the hospital day! Micah in the bag that Micah's Auntie Jen made!
Proud and excited Nana and Papa

Proud and excited Gramma


  1. Wow what an unexpected turn of events! I am in awe of the fact you made it to 9cm without any meds! I wimped out at 5cm! I can't believe how fast they can make those decisions at the hospital, makes you really appreciate their knowledge and discernment. I bet having it happen so quickly was almost good in a way because you didn't even have a moment to realize all that was happening. So glad he is home and safe in your arms! I REALLY need to make a trip over to meet him and hear the stories in person from you.

  2. I am so proud of you Ali.
    My favorite part of your post was how you discribed your contractions as the gopher game at the carnival. I loved reading about your process of Michas birth made me think back on Riley's.
    I love ya and hope to see you THREE soon!

  3. what an experience! It must have been terrifying and exhilerating at the same time...with the best prize at the end. Loving all the updates, photos, and stories of your new lives! xo Amanda


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