Born today at noon!
Such a challenging birth. Ended up with an awful hematoma and a foley catheter. I'm basically bedridden, which makes things very difficult. I'm trying to nurse on my side because I can't sit. Frustrating but worth it!
Here I am on the other side of a rite of passage that took me to places I never thought I’d know. I feel like my world shifted dramatically on one very precious moment and I now reside in the incredible new reality of motherhood, a world where everything I’ve known in twenty-five years on this earth has suddenly become new again through the eyes of my precious son.
Friday, September 7th, just a day shy of 41 weeks gestation--or as some would say, a week “overdue”--I went in for an appointment with my midwife, Rebecca. By this time, the novelty and wonder of pregnancy had long worn off and I was ready to meet my son. I felt huge and uncomfortable and being fat just wasn’t cute anymore.
Since I was dilated to a 2 or 3 and Hank was situated extremely low in my pelvis, Rebecca asked if I wanted to see what would happen if she stripped my membranes and even offered an herbal concoction as an induction technique. The combination has a very high success rate of bringing on labor within the next 24 hours. After mulling it over, my gut told me that I could be patient and see what happened with the membrane stripping alone. She suggested basil and oregano-heavy foods for dinner and I went all out. I drank oregano tea and made a caprese salad and Mike and I went for a walk around 10:00. I had some fairly good, strong BH contractions going on and off that evening and we stayed up late watching TV.
Close to midnight, I had a gut feeling that I should get some rest, but we decided to fire up one more episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Shortly after that, I felt my first real contraction and looked at Mike. “That was definitely a contraction,” I said, noticing a distinct difference between it and the braxton hicks I’d been feeling so far. When the next one came on just a few minutes later, I had him start timing them. I had only a handful at five or six minutes apart and then very suddenly they were consistently three minutes apart and 45 seconds long and I had to work to get through them.
I was a little confused as to what to do since I was expecting to start out slow with contractions that were spaced further apart. I asked Mike to decide if we should call the midwife to go in since the contractions were so close and intense already. It was a little after 1:00 when he talked to her and she said she’d could meet us at her office/birthing suite at 2:00. I felt a sense of euphoria and excitement knowing this was really it! Mike had to pack for me because I was out of it already and didn’t have time to get my head on straight in between contractions. I just worked through them by humming and walking and swaying, nervous about laboring in the car even though it was only a 15 minute drive. Thankfully, that part was actually pretty easy.
When we arrived, Rebecca was waiting outside the door with a smile on her face and the birthing tub filled and ready to go. My recollection of things after this is pretty foggy and only bits and pieces of things stand out. I’m not sure how well I remember the order of things. Rebecca checked Hank’s heart rate with her little portable doppler monitor and found him to be very, very low in my pelvis already.
During contractions, I tried several things with no relief, standing, leaning over the ball, etc. but not much helped. I think my doula showed up not long after I got there, but even that’s a blur. I decided the tub would make things nicer and so I got in for a little while. After a little bit, my midwife suggested we go outside for a little walk. I got dressed with some help and somewhere in this time-frame I must have started to get vocal because I remember looking up during one contraction and seeing houses nearby, thinking, “I wonder if these people hear moaning women in the night all the time out here.” I got through the contractions by leaning on DH’s arms as my doula pressed on my hips. From there on out, I made the exact same “Aaahhh” sound in the exact same tone with varying degrees of volume through every contraction.
I remember spending some time on the bed with someone rubbing my feet and when it got tougher, I made my way back to the tub. I begged for some ideas to help cope with the contractions, which for some reason, didn’t have a gradual rise to the peak. They just shot straight up and I had no time to prepare for the intensity. I tried making out with DH through one contraction and I could see how that would help if my contractions built slowly, but they just hit me way too fast and hard and the only thing I could do was focus on the reverberations from my “Aaahhh” sound as loud as I could sing it! At some point in the tub, I hit the wall. I was probably only dilated to about a six, but this was really my transition moment. I declared that it was too much and I couldn’t handle it and could we go to the hospital now? They could give me an epidural, right? And wouldn’t that make it feel better? My labor team just kind of smiled and explained that it would be a lot harder on me to transfer to the hospital and that by the time we got there, I would probably be pushing already. Well, the next contraction hit with a vengeance and I resigned myself to the work ahead. I buckled down and went on to do much harder labor and even went through the actual transition with double peaking contractions like a trooper.
At one point, my midwife offered to break my water to speed things up. I had heard that contractions got much harder once the water had broken and I couldn’t stand the thought of feeling anything more than what I was already feeling, so I declined. Looking back, I can see that contractions actually never got more intense in sensation then they were at that point and when she did finally break my water later on, there was absolutely no difference in intensity. It may have actually made things a little bit faster, had I agreed to it. It’s funny how truly out of it I was. I remember hearing conversation going on around me and even some directed at me that I just couldn’t respond to. All I could do was labor. I remember looking up once and seeing everyone yawning and thinking, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!?? Do you see what I’M doing, here!?”
I never really felt any distinct change in the contractions that made me feel like I should push, but I guess I must have started making some pushy noises around 9:00 am, because my midwife suggested I try to push and see how that felt. Oh, man! It felt SO much better. There was a lot of relief from bearing down. Rebecca held the last little bit of cervical lip back out of the way as I pushed past it. It just seemed like I pushed and pushed and pushed and it felt like nothing was happening! It’s really tough to work that hard at such an unbelievable level of exhaustion and not be able to feel the progress that’s being made. Rebecca kept using the analogy of road construction. Things just take a while to pave the way when it’s your first. (Especially when your kid has a 15 ¼ inch head!)
I asked for something to be able to pull on and we looped a blanket through a bar on the wall at the front of the birthing tub. Mike got in the tub behind me to hold me up between contractions. I pushed and pushed and pushed, feeling like nothing was happening.
After some time, Rebecca suggested I push on the bed for a while and held up a mirror so that I could see that he was making his way down the birth canal. I pushed and pushed and pushed some more. I had this ridiculously tight hymenal ring that I just couldn’t seem to get him past. I felt like I was giving it everything with no progress at all. At this point I remember saying that I didn’t think I could do it and could she just give me an episiotomy? Both my doula and midwife shook their heads and convinced me that it wasn’t something I wanted.
I just kept going, not sure if I was doing it right or not. One thing that seemed to help was when Rebecca would reach her fingers in and pull my perineum down to give me an idea of the direction that I needed to push. After not getting much further, Rebecca suggested that I try pushing on the toilet to try to get him to crown.
Once I was pushing on the toilet, I really got a sense of how it was supposed to feel, because it definitely had the sensation of a bowel movement. My breathing didn’t seem to be very effective, though. When I would try to stop for a quick breath, the progress I had started to make at the beginning of the push felt like it was all for nothing as soon as I tried to take a quick breath. Once I just stopped trying to breathe in the middle and got completely silent and pushed as long as I possibly could on one single breath, I could actually feel him coming down. I grasped the toilet seat and pulled up as hard as I could. I’m surprised I didn’t break it! Then I reached under the bowl and pulled upward as I pushed. My hands would slip up the bowl and I would reach back down and grab again and again.
During this time, my midwife fed me a shot of some herbal concoction to strengthen contractions and I gulped mountain dew through a straw for a little extra shot of sugar and caffeine. I really started to feel my power come on at this point and suddenly I knew what I needed. There were two padded blocks for people to sit on next to the tub and I looked up and said that I needed something to put my feet on. They brought them over and placed one under each foot and with the next contraction, I bore down with everything I had and with an audible pop, I got him past the hymenal ring and crowning as everyone cheered me on.
I got into the tub on my hands and knees and made even more progress. Then my midwife had me flip over to my back and apply counter-pressure at the top to avoid tearing upward as I birthed his head. I got his head almost all the way out with a lot of intense noises. I was basically squealing like a panicked pig because I was afraid of tearing and the sensation was pretty intense. I was trying to be slow and give myself time to stretch while at the same time wanting him to come out already. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but I got his head almost all the way out and then I did something and he popped back in! I remember freaking out about it, almost in tears. But with the next contraction, I birthed his head and it stayed out.
I remember the feeling of stroking his silky soft hair as it floated in the water and it’s still my absolute favorite thing. When I caress his sweet head as he nurses, it reminds me of that calm moment in between contractions as I waited to birth the rest of him. The next contraction came and out he squirted and he immediately placed into my hands as I sobbed with joy, “My baby! Oh, my baby!!” I held him to my chest and sang to him.
He was born at 11:49 AM after a twelve hour labor and three hours of pushing. It was the most amazing thing I’ve experienced in my life and I’d go back and do it all again for my sweet baby boy.
Edited by MotoMom - 10/2/12 at 4:24pm