My story is quite long - mostly because it involved a trip to L&D two days before birth due to blood pressure problems. I also put in a few more details than I did in my journal - like a description of the mucous plug. So be warned =)
I had been drinking my own blend of 2 parts RRL (Red Raspberry Leaf) to one part nettle leaf tea on and off throughout pregnancy, getting more regular in my consumption in third trimester. RRL is good for toning the uterus – both for pregnancy and regular feminine needs. Nettle leaf is high in vitamin K – a key component in the body’s ability to clot. I had some bleeding issues after Robert’s birth – and we do not administer the vitamin K injection at birth unless forceps or vacuum are used, a c-section is done, or other traumatic birth occurs My increased consumption results in a higher vitamin K content in my breastmilk.
I had semi-regular contractions Monday (11/13) from 5:25 to about 7:15. Then they started spacing out a bit. By the time we left for the doctor's appointment, they really weren't anything at all. At the appointment, I measured 38 cm (down from 41 the last week) and the student had to go WAY down to get the heart rate (150s-160s), so we were all very confident that the baby moved down more. And both the student and Dr. P confirmed the "lump" at the top was a butt. All good.
My bp was a bit high for me. I'm normally spot on 120/80 - this time I was 132/82. The nurse wasn't too worried... she said hers would be high if she thought she was having a baby that day, too. Dr. P did an internal exam and I was 2.5 cm - wanting to be a 3 (from 2 last week), 80% effaced and 0 station (from - 2 last week). But the cervix was still quite high (not fun!) and she said that she didn't think anything was going to happen today. But she still suggested that we get some lunch, go walk around the mall or something, and see what happened. While Geof went to the bathroom, I did the stairs between the 1st and second floors a few times. Nothing. She also said that if I needed anything, to give the office a call and either she or her nurse would get back to me.
We got some lunch and I called my chiropractor to get an adjustment. She just got back from a conference on adjustments in pregnant women, so she was really excited to try a few things and show Geof some adjustments he can do for me in labor. Then we went and walked the mall for awhile. While we were there, I noticed that my fingers on my left hand really swelled up - like blowing up a rubber glove. I was getting kinda light-headed, too. So I kept stopping every now and then to sit, I took of my watch in case it was cutting off circulation, drank a lot of water... but it wouldn't go down. I also noticed that my left leg and foot kept falling asleep - so I wanted to go back to the chiro for a readjustment.
On the way there, I told Geof that I wanted to stop at Wal-Mart or some place with a BP machine before we left the city to come home, and he asked if they had a cuff at the chiro's office. So when we got there, I asked the girl who did my intake exam if she would check my BP... 132/90. That freaked me out a bit. The chiro readjusted me and then the girl did my BP again with the same result. So we called the doctor's office and I left a message for Dr. P or her nurse to call back. When my chiro was out of her current appointment, she called me back in to double check my alignment after I walked a bit and was up and down, and I just missed the call from the nurse (Geof took it and gave her the info). When I got back out, we waited for her return call - she was calling Dr. P at the hospital who was there for another birth.
When D (the nurse) called back, I talked to her and she said that Dr. P wanted me to go directly to the hospital and be monitored for awhile. Her concern was that, if my BP had gone up that much already that it could keep going up. If that was the case, they would need to get the baby out. I got really upset. I know, I know... I'm past my edd (or one day before the latest possible edd), so the baby would be a good weight and capable of breathing on its own and everything. But I didn't want to face the possibility of getting this far and then having a failed induction in an area where it's VERY hard to find a doctor to do a VBAC around here. D assured me that I might not need to be induced - they'd probably just break my water (um... hello? That IS an induction). So I went to the hospital with a very heavy heart.
I got there and a nurse in the lobby asked me where we were going. She was the secretary for L&D, and they had all been waiting for us since Dr. P said I was coming. Everyone kept saying they had been waiting awhile for us and that we "just" got there - but we didn't go anywhere else between the chiro and the hospital - they're just on the opposite sides of town. She said we were going up to the 4th floor, and I said, "Isn't that the NICU floor?" She said the NICU was up there, and I relayed to her that we had Robert up there last year because the main floor was entirely full. She said my luck was repeating itself because that was the same thing going on tonight, and sure enough we were even in the same room that Robert was born in! Our nurse, C, didn't know that I wasn't in labor - that I was just there for monitoring, so that was another big explanation. But, like last time, she had read my birth plan and they already knew what we were waiving and were fine with it... quoting from it without reading it in front of her. She got me hooked up to the monitor for Zy's heart rate and contractions and got a BP cuff on me. My BP was 139/81, which she said was good... but the top number was almost 20 above my normal! But Zy did great - heart rate in the mid 140s at "rest" and up and down at the appropriate times. I was having contractions about every 8-9 minutes, but not strong at all. The nurse said that she was pretty sure they were just BH contractions (and I agreed). Dr. P stopped back up before going home to talk with me. Said that the BP was probably just a pregnancy fluke thing and it was okay for now. She said she could do another internal if I thought there were any great changes from this morning, but I passed on that. We both agreed that it just was not time yet, and I told her that I'd rather go home and wait than try and force the baby along if s/he's not ready to be born... and she also agreed. She still said that she didn't think I'd need an appointment for next week's prenatal and that I'd probably be back in the next day or so... possibly even that night. But that I should go home, get a good meal and get some sleep in my own bed and we'd take it from there.
Tuesday evening at 8:50, I started feeling the contractions again - now 5 minutes apart. They stayed 5 minutes apart for 3 hours. I decided to call the hospital at midnight to let them know we were coming because of predicted bad weather. I brought along my second batch of strong infusion RRL/nettle tea and drank 2 quarts in the car. When I arrived at 1 am, I was only 3 cm... and bummed because I didn't want to be there that early. But I didn’t want to leave for fear of the weather turning – and the only open place to walk at that hour was Wal-Mart or a grocery store. I was also really shocked because the contractions were really getting quite strong. I walked around the floor for two hours with contractions way more intense than any prior to transition in my son's birth, squatting and swaying and breathing through contractions as close as 3 minutes apart. When the nurse asked if she could check me again to update my doctor (I was still an outpatient and in a triage room), I went back to the bathroom and found my plug in my underwear (it looked like a blood-red and clearish-off white taper candle stub – about the thickness of a tampon and 1-1.5 inches long). I called the nurse into the bathroom so she could pass that info along to my doctor as well... and had 4 good contractions in the less than 10 minutes I was in the bathroom - to the point that I was starting to vocalize through them. When she checked me, she said I was 5-5.5 cm. I started crying a little for a whole lot of reasons – I was exhausted, I was in a lot of pain, and I really thought I’d be further along by that point. The nurse kinda got scared (she was a little odd) and assured me that I was really in labor now (no, really?) and they would be keeping me… she just wanted to update my doctor and my room was being prepared. I was also the ONLY laboring woman at that time – everyone else there was post partum (so different from my other two experiences on L&D).
She waited for me to go to the bathroom again (lots more painful contractions) and walked our suitcase/cameras over to the real room while I was in there. Geof waited for me and helped me walk over – just across the hall really… the other side of the nurses station (3403 for my memories). I requested a birth ball as soon as I got in there and they brought me this odd oval-shaped one. It was comfortable, it just kinda threw me because it wasn’t what I was expecting to see. I was on the ball for awhile while she finished going over the admittance paperwork (thankfully, I had been there Monday and C had already done most of the paperwork while I was comfortable). When I was done, she used the efm to listen to the baby’s heart rate through a couple contractions. By this time, they were all coming 3 minutes (or less) apart, lasting 60-90 seconds, and very strong. I was having a hard time dealing, so I asked about using the Jacuzzi tub and she got it set up for me.
I got into the tub at 5:00. It was like instant relief! I was worried about the possibility of it stalling labor, but she just kinda waived me off (this was still L – the “odd” nurse). I asked her for some ice water, and I was then able to sleep between the contractions – waking up just for the peaks which still weren’t that bad in the water. Geof got to sleep on the pull out couch in the room, too (I had gotten a nap that afternoon – Geof had not and had been up since about 7 Tuesday morning). I found it funny that she couldn’t get Zy’s heart rate with the underwater Dopplers (she tried both they had on the floor) – only because my nurse during Robert’s labor couldn’t get it either. Eventually, I had the internal battle between getting out of the tub because I was really hot… but knew that getting out would mean the killer contractions again. At 6:30, I called for the nurse to help me out. (I also had to ask her for a new gown because she kept knocking mine off the bathroom hook – at one point stepping on it – and hanging it back up. I refused to put that one back on.) Geof came in and helped me get out of the sports bra I was wearing and into the new gown… over the course of about 3 contractions coming one on top of the other.
I felt like I really had to poop, so I tried (and did) and had a bunch of contractions on the toilet (about 2 minutes apart and lasting up to 90 seconds – it was really hard and very painful). L said she would be right back, and instead C, our nurse from Monday, came in (yay shift change!)! We joked between contractions that I had been holding off for her to be on again – she told me Monday that she wouldn’t be working again until Wednesday morning. She saw how hard I was working through the contractions, but she never interfered – only encouraged me/us between them about how great of a job we were doing coping and working together. She asked to do a 10 minute strip and check my BP, and I was looking forward to just resting for a few minutes. I don’t know if we even got 5 minutes – I couldn’t be in any one position for very long, and she encouraged me to get up again and she was going to call my doctor and let her know what was going on (my BP was fine, baby was fine… just that the contractions were close and intense and that she was going to wait until Dr. P got there for any internal exams – which I was very thankful for her hands-off approach… I would have insisted on it if she wasn’t).
While she was out of the room, I felt like I had to poop again… and I did. Repeat the above pain and howling and concerned look from Geof. When C came back in, I asked her, “Is it true that contractions get MORE intense when the water breaks? Because I’m not sure I can get through much more intensity than this!” She said that, yes, contractions usually get more intense after the water breaks, but that she had been watching us work together and we’d do just fine. (I really have no idea what time it is now – or really ever again until the baby is born.) I tried the birth ball again and was there for maybe 2-3 contractions. C suggested trying the water again, and I said that I worried about feeling so hot in there – wasn’t sure I wanted to, but I’d consider it after I went to the bathroom again. She said, “You don’t feel like you have to have a bowel movement, do you? Because that can be a sign that you’re ready to push…” I said that I did feel like I had to go, but that I had been right twice before and just wanted to try.
As I’m sitting on the toilet (and really howling and having a hard time focusing through the contractions – Geof’s reminding me to make low sounds for progress), I start thinking that there’s no way I can keep this up for as long as it’s going to take to get to push. I didn’t want drugs, I wanted a c-section because I wanted it over NOW. It was like the most painful constipation pain you could imagine… and then some. I remember at one point telling Geof that I didn’t remember being in pain like this for Robert’s birth. He told me that I wasn’t… which was comforting in that I wasn’t crazy but also really frightening. I heard Dr. P come in the main room and C was catching her up on what was going on. As I came out of the bathroom, Dr. P asked me how I was doing and another contraction hit and I started crying and moaning and hanging on Geof. When it was over, she asked if she could check me and I agreed. It took a few more contractions for me to get into the bed and lay down and she said that I was about 9-9.5 cm, 80% effaced and the baby was “right there.” She said she was going to change quickly and be right back. I don’t remember how long she was gone, but she checked me again and I was complete – 10 cm, 100% and baby was +3. She said if I wanted to try pushing I could – or I could wait until I felt the urge. I think she could tell I was at the end of my rope because she said that many moms feel better when they’re pushing.
I was having an internal battle because I did not want another 3.5 hours of pushing like I did with Robert, but I knew I had to get started to finish. I did a little test push with her reminding me how to do it (take a deep breath, let it out, take another and hold it and push until I wanted to stop… breathe… do it again as long as I want and as long as I felt the contraction or wanted to stop). I pushed just a little and she said the bag of waters was bulging and she would break it. The nurses there (C and the one who came in with the whole cart of clamps and stuff) stopped her and reminded her that I didn’t want my waters broken per my birth plan. She said okay and started to put the hook back, but I said, “At this point, if it will get the baby out faster, break my waters PLEASE!” So she said when the next contraction hit, I should push and she would break the bag. I did, she did, and she announced that the water was nice and clear (and it was not as dramatic as I was expecting… my labor with Robert started with my waters breaking spontaneously at home with a loud pop and a couple good gushes).
I kept pushing through that contraction and the baby got to the point where she was crowning. I felt the pressure, but not the intense burning I remembered from Robert’s birth – more a pulling sensation. I was really yelling and loud with pushing at this time, and she kept encouraging me to “push though the pain, Gen… you can do this!” and “the head is right there!” I remember yelling, “GET OUT OF MEEEEEEE” as I pushed her head out (and everyone started laughing – myself included). She said there wasn’t any cord (but the nurse behind her said, “Are you sure?” and Dr. P said, “Oh, there is one loop there… hold on one second while I get it off, Gen.” As soon as I felt the next contraction, I pushed out the rest of the body (8:47 AM) and just felt so much better… there’s really nothing like the feeling of labor being DONE!. Dr. P said, “You have a little girl!” and she placed her on my stomach. I just kinda looked at her – so surprised that pushing went so fast this time. Dr. P kinda chuckled, smiled and said, “You can touch her!” That snapped me out of my la la land and I started playing with her hairline and talking to her. C (I think) gently wiped her down with warm receiving blankets and gently suctioned out her mouth and nose with the Little Blue Sucky Ball Thingy™. Then Dr. P asked Geof if he wanted to cut the cord (it had stopped pulsing) and he did. I brought her up to nurse (and she latched on right away – so no pitocin for me this time) and Dr. P asked if she had a name. I said Mikaela Gabrielle Eleanor, to which we were told it was a beautiful name. Geof chimed in that W. (our last name) was automatically part of the package, and everyone laughed again.
C asked if they could take her over to the warmer (once she unlatched herself) to do her vitals and statistics, and I agreed. Geof went with them and took some pictures. He also took some pictures right away of me holding Mikki because he knew how upset I was after Robert’s birth when I realized that neither of us remembered to take pictures of me with Robert at the hospital (or for the first 10 days after he was born for that matter). They did all the foot prints and gave her a hat, then bundled her up and brought her back to me. C offered to take a family photo for us, too.
The only negative thing of the whole experience was when I realized that my doctor had been pulling on the cord to try and get the placenta to detach. The placenta followed right after Robert, so we never crossed that bridge last time, and I didn’t think to mention anything about it this time prior to birth. It wasn’t until just before the last “tug” that I realized what was going on. I was a bit shocked (because she’s usually so hands off – I wasn’t expecting active management of the placenta), and as I was about to say something, it came off and she asked me to give one last push to get that out. I asked to see it (along with the really long cord that gathered a few comments) and had Geof take a picture of it so that I could take a better look at it later. No, I won’t be printing that one =) I had a little bit of tearing along where I tore last time. I said that if it wasn’t much, she could just leave it. But she said that while it wasn’t as extensive as last time, it was bigger than she felt comfortable leaving (and feeling it a couple weeks after, I’m glad she stitched it, too). C would occasionally feel my stomach to see how the uterus was contracting, and she was shocked at how quickly it was contracting back down – especially in light of the minimal blood I was losing. When Dr. P was done with the stitches, she manually removed a couple of large clots from inside. Not comfortable at all, but C told me later that it probably helped a lot with the minimal blood loss we were seeing.
Dr. P asked if I was still wanting to leave in 6 hours – the minimum stay we had to have at that hospital without leaving AMA (it was just after 9:00). I said that whenever she was done with patients for the day and was back doing her rounds would be fine – but that we still really wanted to leave that day. She went over and checked out Mikki, declared her “perfect,” and Geof took a picture of Mikaela with Dr. P and K (Dr. P’s PA student that we came to really like in our last few appointments and asked to have attend the birth… even though our birth plan asked for no students). Then we were left to enjoy our daughter and just kinda relax.
As soon as they left, I asked C if I could get a shower. She looked at me like I had two heads =) She said, “Let me get this straight. You just had a baby less than 30 minutes ago, and you feel like getting out of bed and taking a shower?” I assured her that I felt great – just hot, sweaty and smelly – and that I would feel a lot better after a shower. She said they needed to monitor my blood pressure for 20 minutes, but that if I still wanted to take a shower after that, she would help me get that done. While the BP cuff was doing it’s thing, she asked me if I wanted a shower chair or if I just wanted to stand. I said just stand, but Geof requested that a chair be put in the shower just in case because I had been a little light-headed after Robert’s birth. So C went and got the chair and got the water running warm for me while we made a few phone calls. When I got up, I gushed a little blood (enough to make the room look like a set from CSI: ) but that was it and she helped me get over to the toilet and then into the shower… then played crime scene clean-up =) When I was out and going to sit in the rocking chair, I noticed that the blanket that I had crocheted for her – that had been on the bed with us – was missing. It had been bundled up with the bloody linens (well, in its own bag…) and taken away in the laundry! C went and found it and apologized profusely – but it was fine! Shortly after, she came back in to check on me. She told me that they had more laboring women come in and she was going to be reassigned to one of them – but that she could still be reached if I needed something.
That was it! I felt so great after that. Mikki nursed a couple more times while we were there, did her jobs (peed, pooped, looked cute), we helped bathe her, got her picture taken for the website, and went back and put her in her car seat to be inspected before Geof brought it home to reinstall. Our new nurse, R, said she would be right back to check on her in the seat and to bring me the ibuprofen I had requested for the after pains. Geof put Mikaela in the seat on the floor next to him. I fell asleep. Geof fell asleep. Mikki fell asleep. 45 minutes later, I woke up to find my hours-old baby in a hat and onesie only, being covered by Geof because no one had come back to see her in the seat. He took her out and cuddled her to warm her up, then brought her over to nurse. I called for R again, and she apologized about both the lack of medicine (they were having computer problems and couldn’t get the order to the pharmacy) and for forgetting to check on Mikaela. She said she’d be back shortly, so I held on to Mikki until she came back, Geof put her in the seat, and she was “passed” and taken back out. Geof left to go home and shower and get Robert and his mom, and I made a couple more calls and took another nap with my daughter. They arrived right around 6:00, Robert loved all over “Hannah” (the name of a friend’s baby that stayed with us for a few weeks) and shared his new cold with her, and we sat around waiting for discharge. At 7ish, I had the nurse find out what was going on, and Dr. P had called discharge orders over for me. They went through all the paperwork about follow-up appointments for PKU, hearing screening, well baby, my 6 week post partum… even had us sign a contract that we wouldn’t shake her. Then we were free! And, unlike last time, I didn’t have a bitchy nurse telling me that she got to carry my baby out of the hospital… one of the two triggers to my baby blues last time. I got to carry my daughter out to the car, complete with the accolades of the nurses at the nurses’ station and the one accompanying me for leaving the same day since I felt good. They all thought it was a great idea!
I was so thankful for another great experience at this hospital. We had so many cheerleaders during labor – even random nurses passing Geof and I in the hall while I was squatting during contractions. C said that seeing a natural birth is usually quite rare there, even though there had been 5 in the last month (this is one of the two main hospitals in Sioux Falls – the largest city in the state). They were all very respectful of our labor, our privacy, and our choices to stray from the norm on some things: refusing eye “goop,” refusing vitamin K, refusing circumcision (we didn’t know what “Zy’s” gender was prior to birth)… even down to the acidophilus, RRL and nettles I was taking in preparation for birth. C asked a lot of questions about our choices because she was genuinely curious, and she said she was really impressed with how much education we both came into this experience with – and that she had learned a lot from us, too. It is still my dream that South Dakota would drop the stupid laws from its books that make assisted homebirth illegal in this state. But if we’re still here for our next child and it is still illegal, there is no doubt in my mind that we would return to this hospital again.
Her stats: 8 lbs, 8 oz, 19.5 inches long. Born November 15, 2006 at 8:47 AM. 11 hours 57 minutes of labor, 9 MINUTES of pushing! And as her T-shirt (from granolathreads.com) proudly declared in her hospital photos – Drug Free – Born Naturally!