X-posting from my DDC. Our daughter Evelyn Linnea arrived on Monday, July 16 at 10:30 a.m. She weighed 8 lb 0 oz and was 21" long. Some of you may remember that I had a lot of concerns about my blood pressure, blood sugar, weight etc. throughout this pregnancy, so I feel incredibly blessed with the way things turned out and so grateful to my great health care providers. I felt confident throughout that any interventions would be truly needed and not just because of "birthing while fat," which is a great place to be when we are so often taught not to trust our bodies.
OK, here is the birth story--sorry, really long. :)
On Sunday the 15th, I woke up with bloody show. We ran some errands and sort of had a normal weekend day. We went out for a 2-mile walk... it was really hot. I was having some period-like back pains off and on all day, but didn't think much of it. We had a midwife appointment scheduled for Tuesday, and a non-stress test Wednesday, and I really thought I would be around for both. We also had our contractors scheduled to come in the following morning to work on the nursery. However, sometime in the evening (I think around 10:30), the back pain was getting annoying and I told Paul I wanted to lie down. I figured it was "false labor" and would go away if I rested and changed position.
Paul came up to bed around 11:30 or midnight, and I still felt really uncomfortable. I knew now that these were probably contractions (even though I felt everything in my back the whole time, never the pain in my abdomen that I had expected), but I figured it would be a long time before the "real action" got started. He timed some contractions for me, and although the first couple were 8 minutes apart, they quickly sped up to 3-5 minutes apart. We were both dozing off between contractions, and I would wake up and ask him to start the timer when one was about to start.
Around maybe 2:30 or 3 a.m., I was having to vocalize through contractions and was just having a pretty tough time. I tried kneeling on the floor with my head resting on the bed for a while, but mostly I just lay on my side and tried to stay still. It seemed like every time I changed position, it would trigger a contraction, so I was too afraid to experiment much with positioning. We called our doula and the hospital triage line to see if they thought we should come in, and both were pretty noncommittal. They said we could go in if we thought it was time, but the midwife on call warned us that they might send us home if I wasn't in active labor. If there was one thing I knew, it was that feeling the way I did, I did NOT want to make 3 car trips instead of one, so I decided I would wait a little bit. However, by 5 a.m. I was miserable and told Paul I wanted to go in (basically just to have a change of scenery and feel like I was "doing something"). He notified the doula and midwives, got the bags out to the car, and we took off for the hospital. If nothing else, there was no traffic at that time of morning, so it worked out pretty well timing-wise.
We arrived at the hospital around the same time as our doula and checked in to triage. I had several contractions as I was getting undressed, lying on the table to be checked, having the initial fetal monitoring done, etc. At this point I was thinking there was no way I could handle 12 more hours of this (my estimate of how much more time I might have since it was my first birth), but then the midwife checked me. She said "How many centimeters do you think you are?" I didn't want to guess high and be disappointed, so I said "4?" (I had been checked at 2-3 at my appointment the previous week.) She shook her head, smiled, and held up 8 fingers. Such a relief!
They wheeled me into my labor and delivery room in the birth center, and I lay on my back for what felt like quite a while (but really couldn't have been that long) while they messed around trying to get my IV in for the GBS antibiotics, did some fetal monitoring, etc. I really must not have had enough water overnight because it took 3 or 4 different people to find a vein for the IV. That part sucked and I just wanted to hit everyone involved, but on the whole the team led by the midwife was awesome. Meanwhile the doula was getting the tub in the bathroom filled because I thought the water would help with the back pain. It turned out it really did help quite a bit, and I sat in it through an hour or so of contractions. The doula and Paul were in the room with me and would vocalize with me through my contractions. I had been convinced ahead of time that it would be important to make low sounds and concentrate on keeping my face and bottom relaxed during the contractions, so that's what I tried to focus on, and it seemed to work.
At some point the midwife checked me again and said I was fully dilated except for a small cervical lip. The lead nurse (who was awesome) suggested that although the tub was great for helping me rest, it probably wasn't helping me progress as much as I would if I changed positions. I tried squatting in the tub for a few contractions, then at her suggestion walked out into the room and took slow, exaggerated steps, lifting my knees, then placed my foot on a chair when a contraction would hit. I was in a lot of pain and complained a LOT through this process. After a bit I couldn't really deal with this anymore, so the midwife suggested I try pushing. I kneeled on the floor with my head resting on a chair and tried a few pushes, but it hurt my back so much that I just couldn't make myself push most of the time. I started to cry and beg for some kind of pain relief. The midwife quickly asked around to see if anyone knew how to inject sterile water papules, and when nobody was available, she just googled it, got some help, and did the procedure. (Did I mention these people were awesome?) It took the edge off just enough that I could re-focus and do a few pushes in the kneeling position.
Throughout the time I was in the tub and pushing, the nurse seemed to be after me with the fetal monitor all the time. I found it really annoying and when I was kneeling, it actually hurt a lot to have someone pressing on my abdomen. I found out that the supervising OBs were bugging the team to put me on continuous monitors throughout the time I was there, but the midwife didn't think it was necessary so they were trying to find creative ways to get the monitoring in without confining me to the bed.
Finally the midwife conveyed to me that I was really going to need to push, and they had me get in bed on my back, pull my knees back, put my chin to my chest, and push as hard as I could for 3 pushes per contraction. This was excruciating but a) I just wanted to get it over with at this point, and b) I could tell on some level that there was some pressure to get the baby out, and I certainly didn't want a C-section at this point. So I did what they told me. Part of what made it scary was that I have some recurring back pain in my lower right side that feels at times like something is "bulging" or "wrong" in some way, and I felt like I was really aggravating this and maybe injuring myself, so it was that as much as the pain that was freaking me out. However, after pushing for several contractions in this position, the baby basically shot out all at once and the pain stopped instantly. It was amazing. She started crying immediately, they put her on my chest right away and I couldn't believe I had actually given birth to a baby girl. It was 10:30 a.m. and I had been laboring in the hospital for only about 3 hours (about 12 hours total). The nurse told me and the midwife that she had given the baby a 10 on her 5-minute Apgars (she actually scored a 9) just to mess with the OBs who had been bugging them to put me on monitors that whole time. :) She has this crazy head of thick dark hair--I never expected her to have so much.
Things got a little more weird at that point because although I felt really great, it seemed like I was bleeding a lot and the midwife called some doctors in to look at my tear. (The midwife said the baby had been posterior and had turned transverse throughout the labor, but didn't quite make it to anterior.) They seemed to think it was pretty bad and after Paul had cut the cord and been given the baby to hold skin to skin, they wheeled me into the OR for surgery. I had a spinal (it honestly felt awesome to just lie there and rest and feel no pain), and the surgical team were really kind and friendly throughout the process. After the surgery, they updated me that the tear had not been as bad as expected and was actually only second degree instead of 3rd or 4th as I had originally been told. When I went to recovery, Paul brought me the baby and they helped her latch on to feed. We stayed 48 hours in the hospital so the baby could be monitored, because the IV antibiotics were not given 4 hours ahead of the birth. This actually worked out OK because I could get some help from a lactation consultant, etc.
We are dealing with the stress of new parenthood, too many visitors, worrying about adequate weight gain, etc. but my milk is in and on the whole things are going well. I feel incredibly blessed that the baby didn't get "stuck" and that I didn't have other complications. I really couldn't have asked for a better, more positive birth experience. Still can't believe we made and gave birth to this little person :)