I have been struggling with how to present this story. The events leading up to Gideon's birth were so well orchestrated by Heavenly Father that they can only be described as a miracle. But where and when does a miracle begin? I'll do my best to piece it together for you.
Cholestasis. Raise your hand if you know what that word means. Odds are that you have no idea. The first time I heard that word was almost two years ago, when my sister-in-law Shannon was expecting her beautiful baby girl, Peyton. Shannon was experiencing some extreme itchiness with her pregnancy and decided to talk to her doctor about it---thank goodness she did. She was diagnosed with cholestasis, a very rare condition of the liver which affects the production and processing of bile during pregnancy. It presents no real threat to the mother (just makes her unbearably itchy), but results in an extremely toxic environment for the baby which can lead to a stillbirth. There is no cure for cholestasis. There is no medication to ensure the health of the baby. The only course of action is to induce labor as early as possible to remove the baby from that environment. Thankfully Shannon's doctors were informed and aware and induced Shannon weeks early.
What does this have to do with my story? Let me tell you.
At the end of August my hands and feet started itching terribly. I would lay awake at night scratching at the palms of my hands and rubbing my feet on the carpet. I tried lotions and hot water rinses and cold water rinses; I tried vinegar rinses and baking soda rinses and in one desperate attempt I even put Listerene on my hands and feet (the internet told me that it might work, and the internet is always right, right?). In the end I chalked it up to bloating. I told myself that I was being a wuss and that every pregnant woman experiences some bloating and itchy discomfort.
Fast forward to September 9th. I was feeling kind of off and decided to stay home from church. Seemingly out of the blue my big brother Adam calls me. We had a great chat and I explained some of the early labor stuff I had been dealing with and he said something to the extent of "we never had to deal with contractions and natural labor, we just had to induce and hope that our baby would be ok. I guess everyone has their own thing with pregnancy". I didn't think much of our conversation at the time.
Monday came and went and although Gideon was moving, he didn't seem as active as usual. Tuesday came and went and it seemed like there was even less movement. By Wednesday I was really concerned and it was then that my conversation with Adam hit me---Shannon was itchy. She had to induce early. Peyton could have died. Shannon had Cholestasis! But it seemed too absurd to me that Shannon and I could share such a rare condition so I googled it. All of my symptoms matched that of Cholestasis...but then again, anytime I search my symptoms it usually ends up being cancer or something equally as life threatening. By 2pm I had googled myself into a frenzy and I had only felt Gideon kick twice. I texted Shannon about her symptoms and the diagnostic process and she texted me back and gave me the courage to call my midwife.
After explaining things to the nurse over the phone I was asked to come in immediately. I called Rob and gave him some vaguely positive excuse as to why I was going to the doctor and then I headed out.
3:00pm Dr. Townsend decided to administer a stress test
3:30pm Gideon failed first 20 minute stress test...no movement
4:00pm Gideon started moving but the last 50 minutes of stress tests revealed that his heart rate plummeted several times and that there was definitely something wrong. Patti Townsend (midwife) decided that it was time to induce.
5:00pm Already dilated to 5cm naturally, I begged my midwife to allow me to go through labor without pitocin. She agreed but proceeded to break my water to speed things up for Gideon
At some point when I was at 7cm I asked for some IV drugs (I had decided against an epidural). They gave me one shot of stadol, insisting that it would take the edge off the pain and cause some mild drowsiness.
Guys, I did not experience mild drowsiness. I was high as a kite. But not the pleasant floaty kind of high---teddy bears on parade, trapped in my own body kind of high. Also, never really having been high, I'm only really assuming that there is a pleasant floaty sort.
I did not ask for more drugs.
By 3am I was at 9cm and remained there for the next 3 hours. I wanted to push so incredibly badly, but my young, inexperienced nurse wouldn't let me. Showering was my only relief during this whole process but because they needed to monitor Gideon closely they didn't want me taking any more showers either (I had had 3 or 4 fifteen minute showers by this point).
6am They decide things are not going well enough and that Gideon needs to come out. My silly inexperienced nurse didn't feel comfortable setting up the internal monitor so she brought in a very wise older nurse. She had white hair that looked like a halo under the lights of the delivery room. She decided that she wanted to check my progress before placing the monitor and even though I was only at 9cm she let me push. What a relief! She worked with me for a couple of minutes and helped me push through that last centimeter and suddenly Gideon was crowning!
My angel nurse left after she helped me through that part, but I never caught her name. At some point my midwife came, and then another midwife came as well. I'm not really sure how or why it happened but I ended up with 2 midwives, 3 nurses and Rob at my bedside while I pushed.
7:18am Pushing was one of the most difficult things I've ever done but it was absolutely the most rewarding. When they plopped Gideon on my tummy I was so exhausted and happy I could hardly move. All I could do was look at this precious baby and smile. They let Gideon lay on my stomach while Rob cut the cord and then Rob pulled out his violin and played Gideon's Lullaby. Right there in the delivery room. While the song played, Gideon opened his eyes for the first time and craned his head up to look at his daddy.