Sunday, October 27, 2013

Colton's Birth Story

     Thank you for wanting to share in our amazing experience of Colton's entrance to this world.  It will forever be one of the most spiritually profound experiences of my life.  I ask that before you read our story that you pray for a tender heart to feel the depth of my story where my words may lack.  Also if you have or would like to find the following artist and/or songs to play while reading, they were a part of my delivery music.
Artist: My Sister
Songs: Lord I would follow thee, Nearer my God to thee, I am a Child of God, I know that my Redeemer lives, Abide with me tis' eventide, Love at home, Ilonga ha Taha, Each life that touches ours for good.
     This group gives a very soothing rendition of these songs.  Because of the memory they are connected with it is important I share them with you and encourage their accompaniment to the story.
     Colton was a new addition we were excited for from day one.  His older brother Brenten set the path for how different we wanted to treat this pregnancy and delivery.  After my first pregnancy which included a 70 lb weight gain, 38 hours of hard labor, 4 hours of pushing, and nearly every intervention at medical disposal, I wanted a more connected and spiritual experience this time around.
     After the success our friends H&M had with the Bradley Method, we decided to follow in their footsteps.  We enrolled with the same wonderful instructor, Dora Baldwin, who taught me more than I could have imagined and helped me fully realize my vision of being a strong, healthy, and informed soon to be mother (again).  During our classes an idea that had never occurred to me was introduced, home birth.  After a considerable amount of research and prayer we decided that in lieu of the military provided hospital delivery we wanted a home birth with the midwife we eventually fell in love with..."Mama Selena" Green. (I'm Active Duty and required to either deliver at the military hospital or pay full out of pocket costs to anywhere else for medical services)
     She was everything we had hoped for!  Our birthing team included CPM Selena Green, CPM in training Summer, Douala Grace, my husband, mother, BFF H, and aunty and uncle M.  I had all the love and support a person could be blessed with!
     The months flew by until I was finally "within range".  I had been puttering in my labor for weeks and the constant start and stops had us on our toes!  On Thursday September 12th, I had my final appointment at Trippler Army Medical Center (TAMC).  The medical staff confirmed that baby was head down, that I was dilated to a two, and the cervix was mostly thinned.  Whenever labor decided to kick into gear, everything would go quick.  Quick...That was the understatement of a lifetime.
      Early in the morning on Saturday September 14th I was restlessly sleeping between contractions.  Were they an hour apart?  Five minutes?  I had no idea since it was now the norm to start and then stop.   By about the 7th contraction and the pain hitting a 5 out of 10, I realized this could be it and should start timing them.  Three contractions later, they were 7 minutes apart.  I just knew this was it and that It was time to wake everyone. 
     At 0630 I woke Kyle and asked him to call the team.  Since my first baby took so long, I thought 12 hours would be "quick" and told the team not to rush.  I spent the time eating breakfast and breathing through each contraction while perched on my birthing ball.  I was calm, focused, and ready to meet my new baby.  I felt every bit as empowered as I had wanted and envisioned.
     Mama Selena, Summer, and Grace arrived at 0730.  They quietly circled the room setting up gear and checking baby and I's heartbeats and blood pressure.  I was then moved to the bed so the tub could be set up and to check my dilation.  At this point I felt to be between a 4-6 in dilation with a few more hours of labor to take on!  So you can imagine my core rocking shock when told that I was in fact...10 cm dilated and cervix was 100% effaced.  The team abandoned the tub and started moving all gear into the bedroom.  Then as the next contraction wrapped around my whole body, breaking my water and wringing me out like a sponge.  It was terrifying, electric, and for me...sickly enjoyable.
     "My water broke!  My water broke!"  Which was a useless thing to yell since everyone was within 10ft of me.  I endured two more bone crushing capable contractions and then suddenly had the urge to push.  "I'm ready to push" announcing as I rolled from my side to my back.  Opening my legs, ready to push, and two feet came surging out.  Mama Selena exclaimed she had feet and went to work doing what I've now learned is an art lost to nearly every doctor, delivering a breech, posterior baby.
     In order to ensure the baby came out without breaking his arms, she had to reach inside me (INSIDE ME!) and hold his arms down to his side.  Nine months of carrying a squirmy baby could not prepare me for the extreme sensation this produced  It's hard enough to push a baby out, but trying to do it while adult hands are pushing back inside makes this nearly impossible, or so I thought.  Each breath I tried to hold in order to push felt as if being punched from the inside, knocking the wind out of me.  She had me change positions from my back, to my hand and knees, my side, and each time helping ease baby Colton out.  Just when it all seemed impossible and that there was no way to endure, I nearly thought the unthinkable, "I can't". 
     Now for most people, "I can't" may not be a big deal, but growing up with my father "I can't" was not allowed in our vocabulary.  Difficult, impossible, challenging were all acceptable to use, but do not, DO not, DO NOT ever say "I can't".  So I didn't, he was depending on me and I couldn't fail him.  Pushing out his body plus two adult hands at the same time was the most excruciating experience of my life.  I could feel us all in this together, my team, my baby, and I.  As we came down to just his head Mama Selena ordered me to push as hard as I could.  No slow pushing was allowed here and now.  It had to be fast, powerful, and contain strength beyond my own.  With every last fragment of strength, hope and determination, I bore down.  In less than 15 minutes Colton was born at 0830, Saturday September 14th 2013 weighing 7lbs, 9oz, and 21".
     He was out, but was blue and refused to breath.  They had a heartbeat and started CPR while an assistant called for help.  I could hear my mother and husband crying.  I could hear praying in both English and Hawaiian.  All the while my midwife was set on preserving my son in what were obviously skilled and experienced hands.  I talked to Colton.  I told him how much I loved him and ordered him to breath.  He gasped, I cried.  Over and over he would gasp, but couldn't get the remaining fluid out.  He was going to live and knew it.  In what felt like a lifetime later, paramedics arrived.
     They took my new angel and husband and left for Waianae Comprehensive Medical.  Once his lungs were cleared, he screamed, fought, and of course peed on everyone within range (dad was so proud).  After he was stable they transported him to Kapiolani Hospital where he stayed for two days for observation in the NICU.  (I'll elaborate more about that part another time).
     I spent the next two days replaying every moment of his delivery.  I was of course sad that he couldn't be home, but had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for his delivery.  Some may try to use my story as a reason not to do a home delivery, but even if we had always planned on delivering at TAMC, we would never have made it in time.  Because of construction and the speed of his delivery, any attempt at going to the hospital would have resulted in a roadside delivery.  Since most doctors have no idea how to deliver a breech baby, it's safe to say that any responding police or paramedics would have had no idea what to do and would most likely have resulted in Colton's loss.
     Given the options again, I still would make the same choice.  From time to time I consider the price someone pays to know God.  For all my LDS brothers and sisters, we are very familiar with pioneer stories and the plight they endured.  When asked about their decision to cross the plains and mountains, enduring all they did, not one would give up the knowledge and experience they earned to know God.  Kyle's cousin who also did a home birth described her experience "as if enduring with the Savior in the garden of Gethsemane".  No matter what your religious or spiritual stance there is something deeply profound about taking ownership over your babies journey and your bodies transformation.  To willingly give up any piece of your pregnancy or delivery is to sacrifice a remarkable gift.
     Colton Kekoaponookeakuaonalani Frost Carlson was given his name through collaboration between Uncle, Auntie and Kyle.  It was certainly not what we originally planned on naming him and although each child is a miracle, not every miracle happens twice.  During his delivery the presence of our grandfathers, Urban Frost Brown and Ivan Carlson were strongly felt and imprinted on our hearts.  We grew to know our Father in ways I still don't fully grasp or understand.  He is so strong and deserved a name that honored his journey.  Translated, Kekoaponookeakuaonalani is Righteous warrior of the God of the Heavens.
     At 5 weeks old, he is weighing 9lbs, 5 oz and is 22.5" long.  He loves to be cuddled and is sporting redder hair and bluer eyes everyday.  It has me very concerned and brings back many memories of the red headed fanatic I grew up with.  If Colton is even half as fun as him, I'll be twice as in love.