So I'm new to MDC and haven't posted much. But I loved reading everyone's birth stories and found lots of inspiration and strength from them when it came time for Isaac's birth 7 months ago. So I thought I'd share our story:
After a very easy pregnancy where the biggest bother I had was heartburn (apparently that would mean Isaac would have lots of hair) I was wondering if my luck would hold out or if the universe would decide to balance things out with a horrible labor or some other type of bad luck. I was also convinced that the baby would come late, or you know, not at all and I would just be pregnant forever. So Jason and I hadn't done much in the way of preparation and kept meaning to put in the carseat, get a bag packed, clean.
Speaking of cleaning, I actually had a burst of energy on Friday (foreshadowing) after a morning with some mild cramps that seemed to come pretty regularly for a couple hours and then went away to be replaced with painless BH contractions. I washed a rug, cleaned up the house, did all the laundry. I felt great! Then around late afternoon the cramps came back and soon after Jason got home. I let him know I was having some cramps but they didn't mean anything. But we decided to go ahead and cancel our trip to Lori's mountain cabin the following day, just to play it safe since it was three hours away. We also went for a walk because the weather was so nice. But right before we left I went to the bathroom and discovered someone with a mildly bloody nose must have sneezed in my underwear, I hate when that happens. According to the internet this does not necessarily mean anything's happening. But according to people's accounts of labor, they had cramps, snotty underwear, and a baby a few hours later. Hmmm....
After our walk we relaxed at home but also decided to time the “cramps”. They were consistently almost a minute long and about 3-4 minutes apart. They didn't feel like the classic textbook contraction that extends high up. They were just like pretty strong period cramps down low, plus in my butt. This went on throughout the evening and I noticed I couldn't sit down or recline which got pretty exhausting. I thought this must mean something was happening but if it kept up I'd be too tired for real labor. We called the midwife on call who said to try taking a bath to see if they would stop long enough for me to rest. I did, they did not stop. I also couldn't lay down in the tub. I think at some point I took a shower which felt good. I swayed my hips and discovered that if I lifted my but up by grabbing around my sacrum it felt a lot better. Jason went to bed and I stayed up pacing and propped up on pillows, I listened to our whole Iron and Wine collection on the ipod over and over. I didn't listen to the Hypnoborthing scripts (although I had them memorized by now). But by this point I'd become pretty good at totally relaxing my body and doing deep breathing. The fact that I was able to relax even though I couldn't recline must mean that the relaxation strategies worked pretty well. Around 2 am I got so frustrated with the lack of change, neither ramping up or down, that I called the doula, Claire. She said she thought this could either be real labor and it's just really easy or I have a high pain threshold. Or, the worse scenario, this was pre-labor and could go on forever. She said she would let the doula who was on in the morning know I'd probably be needing her tomorrow. Around 5 a.m. I finally went into the bedroom and pouted to Jason saying I was so sleepy. The contractions when I laid down on my side were almost twice as bad. But he said to just try so I did and found that they at least spread out further. I really had to do some loud “s” type breathing during those but I did nod off between them. So I think this got me some rest until the sun came out. I also kept feeling like I had to pee and when I'd come back to bed the contractions would hurt more and I'd have the shakes pretty bad. Jason set up the heating pad which helped that a lot.
I felt a ton better on Saturday morning after a few hours of intermittent rest. Jason and I hung out in the living room and I just crouched on the yoga mat. Kate the doula called and said she'd come over in a couple hours. In the meantime Jason brought me tea and apple sauce to eat. We were in a pretty jovial mood figuring this has to be something happening. Then I threw up the apple sauce. Kate came over and I hoped she didn't think our house smelled like vomit. She said we were in the hanging out phase of things and was a very calming presence to have. We killed time by making up a birth plan while I paced and leaned on the wall while occasionally getting counter-pressure on my sacrum. We decided to go for a walk and walked down to the guinea coop to let the birds out for a few minutes. Then Kate showed me how I could lean up against the car trunk and it really was the perfect height. After a while we went inside. We hadn't been timing contractions but it was clear that they were keeping up the same pace (every 2-4 minutes since the beginning), and weren't really changing in intensity. Kate mentioned that it was always an option to just go in and get checked to see if there was any progress (good advice as it turns out). We decided that Kate would run into town and we would touch base later.
I ran a bath to see if I could get any rest and figured we should call the midwives just to keep them informed. Jason called and the midwife answered and asked to speak to me to see if I could talk through them. I said I could but preferred not to. I also mentioned how the whole time I'd felt pressure in my butt. At first she said I might want to come in and get checked. But by the time we were done talking she was more insistent I come in and not finish my bath or try to rest. Jason got some bags packed using a list Kate had. On a funny note, later when we were getting ready to leave the hospital I opened the suitcase to look for something to wear home and found it full of like, ten ratty old bath towels and a bunch of kitchen rags. Apparently Kate's list included towels (I'm guessing nice ones from home so you don't have to use the rough hospital ones). But Jason must have honed in on that one item and grabbed every one in sight, like we we had to provide our own towels and boiling water or something.
We drove in and the contractions weren't all that much worse in the car. I just had to stay raised a bit in the seat and Jason tried to drive smoothly during contractions. We also stopped at the bank to get some cash. I told Jason I'd be so disappointed if there was no progress, and I'd take at least 3 or 4 centimeters. When we got there we had to wait for her to come unlock the office and we went in with a stop for a contraction and a bathroom break. She had me get on the table and listened to the baby and then dove in for the exam. She felt around and pretty quickly said, “Well, we're admitting you to the hospital” I said, “why?” She said, “You're 9 centimeters, let's go have a baby!” I said ”pardon?” She told Jason who was out in the hall talking to family and he got to let folks know that the baby would, in fact, be here today.
She took us some back way/shortcut to the hospital and seemed genuinely worried that the baby would drop out of me. When we walked onto the L&D floor all the nurses at the station were staring at me like some kind of specimen. I guess they didn't see too many folks at 9 cms smiling, but I was just so glad I didn't have to do this for the rest of the week. We got into the room and they started with the monitoring and the antiobiotics IV (I was GBS+). After that was done we sat around for a little bit and Jason would jump in when directed to during a contraction to do the sacrum lifting trick that worked so well. But then the midwife got the results of bloodwork back and said my white blood cell count was higher than normal and I was running a little temp. She said we should start with the pushing even though I wasn't feeling any need to push. So she directed me into various positions and coached me to push with each contraction. I was lucky that the contractions seemed to by timed pretty far apart, Jason says about five minutes. The pics we have from this stage are mostly of us sitting around waiting for the next one. I remember feeling a bit like I should be a little more efficient with things, lazy uterus! The midwife asked if she could break my water to help pushing progress and assured me that it wouldn't cause things to hurt any more at this point. She went ahead and I didn't notice any difference in the contractions afterward. Jason and Kate would massage my shoulders between them and I would relax.
Kate also held a cool cloth on my forehead, such a stereotype but you really do work up a sweat. The other weird thing that comforted me was my “pee towel”. Early on I asked for a bed pan since I didn't feel like walking to the bathroom. They told me to just pee on the pads/towels they had spread out, so I picked up a towel to hold there just in case. I don't think I was ever actually able to pee but throughout the pushing it was comforting to just be able to relax down there with my trusty pee towel. We joked that it would ruin me on toilets and I'd just take my pee towel everywhere like a blanky.
So after a couple hours of this (it was hard to gauge the time) things started getting more painful as I felt like a cantaloup was trying to escape out of me. But by then the midwife was saying she could see his head. They offered me a mirror but I took her word for it. I remember it feeling like forever and being disappointed when she could see a dime versus a nickel's diameter of hair, and then a nickel not a quarter. I wanted her to see an olympic metal's wort of hair already. I was getting a little pouty and it was harder to get the motivation and energy to rally when a contraction came. I remember wondering if I tried to sit out a contraction would anyone notice. But right as things started feeling like too much I was able to push hard enough that the turbo pushes would take over at the end of a push and then we got some progress. I remember her saying that we'd have just enough time to finish up the second IV dose. Jason asked how long that would take and she said just another two minutes. I think that was at 8:58. Then some more folks came into the room to set some stuff up. A few more pushes and it felt like the cantaloup was right at the exit. I'd say the hardest part of the whole thing was having to get up the motivation to push even though it feels like there's no way that things could possibly fit at the exit. I was too scared to give it my all unless it would make it all be over. Well, one last time and I pushed the usual three times and the midwife said to keep going so I gave that fourth one all I had and the cantaloupe was out. Unfortunately it was attached to more and I really wanted her to just yank him out. But after a second the rest was out and they put away the cantaloup and handed me a baby for my troubles.
He was all bloody and crying, and it took me a second to realize what had happened. They put him up on my chest and attended to him (suction, listening to his heart). Most of this information I gleaned from the video Kate took since I don't have such great recall of this time. I do remember seeing his nails and thinking how nice and long they were (unlike my stubby things). Also the top of his ears were folded over a bit, and have still not totally unfolded so I'm not sure if it's a birth side effect or just his ears. He did have a nice headful of dark hair with a widow's peak like Jason has. In fact most of him is like Jason, except his mouth is my shape and his earlobes are unattached like mine are. And maybe a little of his jawline is mine. Once he stopped crying he was pretty alert and grabbed his hand around Jason's finger.
On that final push I could definitely feel some parts stretching beyond their capacity- but afterwards I was told I only had some cuts that needed stitching, no muscle tears. The injection of anaesthetic was worse than the contractions, but the stitching was done before too long. The nurses got me started trying to nurse. After about an hour of snuggling they weighed him real quick- 6lbs 7 ozs, and 19 inches long. Then Jason went with him to the nursery for his checks, and told me he rocked with him in the rocker while he sucked on his pinky. It's been a whirlwind as we get to know each other. And we're falling more and more in love with our little baby boy.
I definitely count myself lucky to have had a relatively easy birth since my resolve to go without pain meds was never rock solid and my will power is not all that strong to begin with. But I can honestly say that I was never faced with having to fight the urge to get the meds or steel my will or anything like that. While not really fun or “orgasmic” as some folks claim, I never found labor to be unbearable. I never went to another state of consciousness or “labor land,” I never lost my normal level of modesty (except for with nursing afterward- now I just whip em out whenever!), I never felt like anything was being injured or anything was unhealthy except for the little tears with that final push- which incidentally was the only point during labor or delivery where I was scared. I never bit the nurse like my aunt told me she had. As a skeptic while pregnant when watching videos of what appeared to be easy births, I can now say that it is totally possible to have one.
Thanks for sharing your birth story! I'm due soon, reading stories with a happy ending is great. I loved that you were able to keep your sense of humor all the way through - that's always helped me in my labors/births. Congratulations!
SAHM to Abraham (9) Gillian (5) Adrienne (3) and baby boy coming in October!
Always missing our Gianna, lost during fullterm labor (8/23/04)
Sticking together through the good and the bad with dh of 10 yrs!
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