Ok, where to begin?

Well, first off I'm kind of amazed that in personality, I have very little intuition, but as a momma,  my intuition is evidently much stronger. I always thought I'd go to 41 weeks, and she was born at 41 wks 1 day, and I was just sure I was having a girl (and was right). Anyway, I had some pretty strong prodromal labor on Monday...even had a friend come pick up Asher for the night because I thought I'd have the baby. I labored all night with no sleep, but by morning it piddled out.

Then, on Friday evening the contractions started back up again, and that's when it all started, at 40 weeks 6 days. Thankfully, Friday right before I went into labor, I just felt really "blah" and tired, even though the contractions hadn't started back up yet, and I needed a nap (I NEVER nap) So my mom took Asher to a nearby town to the mall and Trevor and I napped for 3 hours...LIttle did I realize at the time how much I'd need it. Labor started around 8 pm Friday, I labored throughout the night...the contractions hurt, but I could breathe through them, and talk in between them (but not during)....But after about 24 hours I was getting frustrated mentally because my contractions weren't regular. They were always strong, but they'd be 4 minutes apart, then they'd be 15 minutes apart, then 7 minutes apart....I somehow doubted if maybe I wasn't really in labor....but I knew i must be because they were SOOOO strong. After about 24 hours that's when I called some UC friends, a midwife friend, and some others, and they all said the same thing: some people just don't have textbook labors that start off far apart and the contractions get closer and closer...My mom researched online and also read that some people's contractions never get closer than 7 minutes; they just get more intense...That's precisely how mine was behaving.

I pretty much just kept laboring, mom just sat to keep me company and time contractions (but would only say when i asked how close they were...) and Trevor just sort of hung out in the other room, which is fine by me because there was nothing I wanted anyone to do; I just wanted them to witness her birth, get me a glass of water, etc.

I never checked my own dilation, my water had not broken, and my contractions were all over the place so I had nothing to go off of regarding my progress except for my own state of mind. Based off that, I think I was in transition for a good 6 hours of the 44 hours of active labor....The contractions were HELL, still irregular, but double peaking and I could not deal with them. I wasn't super loud, but during them I was writhing around, rocking on the couch clawing into it like a demon possessed woman. I started crying in between them and wondering if I could do it. I am so thankful for the women in BIN (a group here on CM for natural birthing moms) who offered words of encouragement...I was sooo close to transferring even though that was the LAST thing in the world I wanted, and I needed the encouragement. It took  me forever to post my post int he group because i was having contractions that sent me to my hands and knees every few minutes between typing...Anyway, after reading that many VBAC moms had 2-3 day labors, and others who never had regular contractions, i felt like I had a newfound energy. That last day, I was praying a LOT. Just begging God to give me strength and peace and my mom read me some of the Bible verses I had printed off for such a time as that.

Then the last few hours before i had her (maybe 2 pm? I dont remember...) the contractions DID get closer together, though at this point I was not asking mom about times....I had been laying on the couch, and when I felt a contraction coming on, i'd immediately jump to hands and knees and rock all around in every direction....it's the only position in the last 12 hours or so that I could handle during a ctx. In those last few hours, I barely had time to lay back down from one contraction ending before another would start, and they were double peaking a lot. I kept saying to mom I couldn't do it anymore, but I knew if I went to the hospital they'd cut me open, and frankly I didn't even know how I'd get to the car if I wanted to because my contractions were so close together and I couldn't walk through them...Mom said she'd take me if i wanted, but that everyone felt that way during transition, but it was ultimately up to me. I was crying, and I prayed to God, "PLEASE, I want to start pushing...I cannot keep doing this...I need this to be over...I'm not strong enough; i'm too weak....If i have one more contraction like this, I'll have to call 911 and just fail..." Literally as I was praying this in my head, rocking back and forth on my hands and knees, I had a contraction and suddently felt a VERY overwhelming need to push and told my mom so. She put down some chux pads and other waterproof materials on the couch with a sheet over it and I kept pushing there on the couch in hands and knees. I had no concept of time, it really did NOT seem that long but mom said she was pretty sure I pushed for an hour and a half. Halfway through pushing, my water broke...and found its way off the waterproof coverings (eh, we needed to dry clean the couch cushions anyway! LOL)....At this point Trevor came in the room and watched the whole thing from the "business end" which really surprised me because he kept saying he just wanted to be told when the baby came out. Mom caught her, and before I could even turn over to sit and see her she had already started crying and pinked up, really way faster than i expected. Mom said she was born with a nuchal hand (and that hand is still always up by her face). Her cord was super short and she had very little vernix but was very bloody and slippery so we just sort of laid her on my thigh....which she promptly covered with meconium after she was out...The cord still had a wee bit of a pulse when we cut it because her cord was so short and i was having contractions needing to push out the placenta...but it had been several minutes and she was breathing well. I then went to the shower to clean up, and caught my placenta in my hand.

Audrey was born at 4:27 pm after 44 hours of active labor and an hour and a half of pushing.

I didn't tear and we were all doing just fine....She nurses like a champ too and is MUCH louder of a cryer than Asher was.

May write more later; DH needs to take his computer to work.....

...Okay, it's now Tuesday and I have a few more minor details I wanted to add. well, first off I'm feeling better. And though I didn't tear, I had a few battle wounds, LOL. For one, my aunt showed me, which I hadn't even noticed til yesterday, that I had a broken blood vessel in my eye (i'm guessing while i was pushing)...and my hands and knees are STILL 2 days later red from me laboring for so mnay hours on the couch on hands and knees or elbows and knees.

Asher is OBSESSED with "his baby sister". He just wants to touch her head all the time. He so far hasn't decided he wants to nurse again, but he HAS started stealing her pacifiers. He hasn't used a pacifier since he was 2 months old, but whatever, I don't care.

Trevor told me last night that he can't wait til he's done with class today so he can come home and cuddle with his baby; he hasn't gotten to spend too much time with her yet because she wanted to nurse the whole day on Sunday and yesterday he had to work and had class so he wasn't home much. She already has him wrapped around her little finger. :-)

Okay guess that's all. Thanks again to all those who encouraged me, and thanks to my God who gave me the strength and made my body to do what it needed to do. I am so grateful.

EDITED APRIL 2011-- When Audrey is 18 months old. At the time that Audrey was born, no one had any idea that anything was wrong with her. She was breathing fine, her heart sounded great, etc. She went to the pediatrician at her newborn check up at 3 days old, and he said she looked marvelous. Same at all her other check ups. I had listened to her heart in utero and she always sounded great.  At four months old, Audrey began to have what looked like newborn startle reflex (arms shooting out to the side, legs stretched out, etc), but they were coming regularly, in a pattern, like every 15 seconds or so. I googled infant + arm spasms, because that is what they looked like. That google search changed my life. After reading, and seeing some videos of other children with the same thing, I realized Audrey was having infantile spasms, a devastating type of epilepsy that almost always leads to brain damage and varying degrees of mental retardation. We were in Vegas visiting my family at the time, so we immediately changed our tickets and got her back to her pediatrician who had her admitted to the hospital. They did all sorts of tests. They discovered during an MRI that her brain was full of tumors, and she was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, a genetic disorder that affects 1 in 6000 people born in America. It causes benign tumors throughout various organ systems in the body, and when those tumors get in the way of normal body functioning, they can cause major problems. They told us the tumors in her brain were "too many to count" and if they tried to surgically remove them all, she would have no brain left. The tumors were causing her to have the infantile spasms/epilepsy. We also discovered at that time that she had a tumor in her heart and bradycardia/arhythmia (slow and irregular heart beat). When they told me that, I had a flash back to when i was 38 weeks pregnant. I was listening to her with the fetoscope, and her heartbeat sounded irregular and very slow (80 bpm). I freaked out, but she was still moving and i thought for sure I had heard it wrong, so i waited an hour and listened again. It was normal. No arhythmia and 140 bpm.  I never heard that odd thing again before or after. But when i listened to it on the machine in the hospital, it sounded just like it did that day when i was pregnant. I had heard the first "symptom" of her disease myself when i was pregnant with her, but I brushed it off because i never heard it again and never had heard it before then, and it was never heard at any newborn check ups up to that point either.

I now know why my body labored in such an "odd" fashion. (long, drawn out labor with irregular contractions). When i googled "cardiac rhabdomyoma (the type of heart tumor she has) and TSC and newborn"....everything that came up in the search were autopsy reports of babies who died in labor. They were given pitocin to regulate the labor, and the babies' little hearts were just not strong enough, with the irregular beating and slow or really fast heart rate (both happen with TSC tumors), and the contractions send them into cardiac arrest and they die. I now fully believe that my labor was the way it was because God and my body knew what Audrey could handle. Had i been ina  hospital, had they let me labor at all, the would've freaked out when my contractions never got regular, and when labor was going on for so long, and they would have given me pitocin to regulate it. And i am fully convinced had they done that, she would have died. Since joining some TSC forums, for those who know ahead of time that their babies have TSC before they are born, they have them by cesarean precisely because the trials of labor are often too much for them, but many times, even in people with medical care, the TSC is not able to be detected, even by ultrasound, before the baby is born. Many times the tumors do not show up until later in pregnancy, and if someone has an uncomplicated pregnancy and only the 18 week ultrasound, they might never know their child had it until later. So having a traditional "monitored" pregnancy would not have helped me. My body worked with my baby and kept her alive. It has been a very long road, but she is doing FAR better than anyone ever told me she would. I was told she would be a vegetable. She is far from it. She is currently 18 months old, just starting to walk, and is climbing the couch and sneakily escaping into things she shouldn't be in...a crafty, smart, beautiful, feisty little toddler. I felt I should update because I have learned so much from her birth, and even more after she became sick and i realized that in trusting God, he kept my baby girl alive even before anyone knew anything was wrong. I trusted my body, God, and the process and it was the best for her and me.

I still regularly update her progress at www.trevorandheatherlittle.com/audrey, and in the early days i blogged about her at www.caringbridge.org/visit/audreylittle (I eventually switched to our family blog, but when she was first diagnosed and in the hospital and going through various treatments, that is all on the caringbridge site for those that might want to read it)

Just because so little is known about infantile spasms and early treatment is key I also wanted to add a link to her youtube video, one we took to show the doctors of her having infantile spasms, so people can know what they look like. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJR-VK0AoBM


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Comments:

asher...
Sep. 29, 2009 at 9:43 AM

oh, forgot to add...she was 19 in and 9 lbs even :-) And here are some pics:

http://trevor-little.smugmug.com/Births/Audrey-Littles-Birthday/9781651_pgNUi#663847222_59t6j

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refle...
Sep. 29, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Congrats! I love her name! I agree with ResearchQueen... Glory be to God!

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refle...
Sep. 29, 2009 at 10:16 AM

Oh my gosh! I just looked at the pictures! Too adorable! She had dimples? That is too sweet! Samuel was the same way with Areya (I think they might have been the same age at baby's birth?)  Big brother love is sooo sweet!

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cali4...
Sep. 29, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Congrat!!!! How is nursing going?

Take some arnica for your "battle wounds".

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asaffell
Sep. 29, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Heather, she is gorgeous. And you did such an amazing job! God is so good.

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aj_ba...
Sep. 29, 2009 at 11:51 AM

Congrats, she is a beautiful baby.

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Caram...
Sep. 29, 2009 at 12:54 PM

Congratulations again :)  I said it before and I'll say it again...you are a BIRTH GODDESS!!!!!!!!

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outst...
Sep. 29, 2009 at 12:57 PM

Beautiful story! wow. 44 hours is a LONG time.

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happy...
Sep. 29, 2009 at 1:36 PM

She is so beautiful and it was a beautiful story!  Congratulations!

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Toddl...
Sep. 29, 2009 at 1:37 PM

I love your birth story!! Congratulations!!

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