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First Birth<br><br>
Saturday morning, 5 February, 1 week after my due date:<br>
I woke to a small dripping between my legs. When I moved a little, it turned into a gush. I sent Eric for a towel, and he came back with a small hand towel. "No!" I said, "a towel, a whole towel!" There was a fair bit of water, and I walked around with a towel between my legs for a while, and then a cloth diaper stuffed into my panties. The baby's head was low enough to plug the flow before too long.<br>
The midwife came and checked me, then left us alone. I was only fingertip dilated and 50% effaced. There was a long way to go.<br>
I wanted to make sausage cheese biscuits, as I had planned to do that morning. Eric wanted them too, to eat. I got the bag of flour from the drawer to the counter, and then contractions became too distracting to do more. Everyone I had called took their time in arriving, which annoyed me. It felt like the baby meant business.<br>
By the time people did arrive, I was upstairs, where most of my labor took place. I crawled around on the floor because the baby was posterior. Someone set up the inflatable pool in our bedroom. I labored in the bed, in the shower, on the toilet, and on the floor. My back hurt during contractions unless Eric rubbed it just so, tapping on it with his fingertips in the sore spot. Other than the back pain, contractions were not bad. I concentrated on relaxing and breathing deeply. The labor did feel intense. I could not focus on anything else, nor did I want to. They tried to make me eat and drink. I sucked on water from a special straw my mother made for me. The only food that I wanted was Jell-O, so someone went to the store and bought Jell-O cups. I ate a few of these.<br>
My midwife called in her backup to assist, because she was not feeling well. This was fine with me; I had interviewed the other midwife and liked her.<br>
Toward evening, the midwives checked me. I was only 2-3 cm dilated. This surprised them as well as me, since I had been laboring hard most of the day. I was disheartened. They recommended a glass of wine to slow contractions and then some rest. Someone brought the wine in a wineglass. How silly. I made them put it in a mug and drank it through a straw. It was a white wine, Folie a Deux, I think. Then my husband and I laid on our sides on our bed; he rubbed my back and I tried to rest. My midwife left to go home and take some strong painkillers.<br>
After it was dark, the contractions intensified. They had multiple peaks. My back hurt a lot, and Eric tapped and tapped and tapped on it, typing a novel, he said later. Finally they let up for a while, maybe half an hour, and I had a nap. After that, I started feeling a little pushy. The midwife checked me: nine centimeters, only a lip of cervix remaining. Hurray! She let me push gently to see if the lip would retract.<br>
We tried some tricks to either get the lip to pull back or to turn the baby, since the posterior position was likely causing the lip. Two contractions on this side, then the other, then knee-chest, then another way, then repeat. She tried to push it back with her fingers during a contraction. Morning came, and my midwife returned. I visualized a turtleneck sweater pulling over a head. I pushed gently. I tried not to push. Repeat this many times. The midwives felt the head, taking turns feeling and then discussing the possible suture lines, while I stayed in knee-chest position for at least twenty minutes. Then the same thing, only on the edge of the bed with my pelvis in the air. For a long time my back stopped hurting, indicating that the baby had probably turned. The baby seemed to be spinning in there. Maybe that's what was going on with the mysterious suture lines.<br>
My family downstairs prayed for the baby to turn. I could hear my sister singing, a lovely sound. I labored in the tub more, which felt better.<br>
There was another problem during this time: I could not pee. I wanted to pee, but nothing came out. I tried the shower, standing, sitting, water running, many tricks. Homeopathic medicines, too. There was no pee coming out. Finally, sometime noonish on Sunday, the midwives catheterized me. This hurt more than transition, because it was a sharp, external pain. I also had to remain on my back for the procedure, which I hated. Since five months pregnant I could not stand lying on my back; it gave me a panicked feeling and made it difficult to breathe. The midwife listened to the baby's heartbeat and reassured me that the baby had no problem with me lying on my back. That helped, but I still hated it. The catheter went in, and a whole lot of pee came out.<br>
After that, I tried even harder to pee, because I didn't want the catheter again. Only a small amount came out, though. They discussed going to get another catheter.<br>
All through this, for a night and a morning and into the afternoon, I was allowed to push gently sometimes, but more often told not to push. Not pushing was very difficult. I had to focus on breathing and relaxation even more. The contractions each peaked twice, and at those two peaks my body would push a little whether I liked it or not. Fighting it was more exhausting than labor.<br>
As the time wore on and I fought the contractions, discouraged them, and avoided things that triggered them, they became less frequent. Trying to pee brought them on, and the contraction stopped me from trying to pee. Talking sometimes brought one on, so I spoke very softly when necessary. It was a long day of not pushing.<br>
The midwives tried all their tricks, called all their friends to see if they had any tricks, and even checked some books for more tricks. That darn cervix did not pull back the lip.<br>
Finally something happened that triggered a midwife conference. They went outside, talked, and came back in and recommended we transfer to the hospital. The reason: a bulge had appeared in my vagina, an elongated purple blob that might be a blood vessel threatening to burst. If it did burst, I may need an emergency transfusion or something else drastic. The midwives could not handle an emergency like that one. Very calmly, Eric and I agreed that it sounded like a good idea to transfer. I put on my favorite maternity dress. The only bag we'd packed was Evelyn's diaper bag. We left for the hospital with that, the camera, and not much else, since family was around to bring us the clothes and other things we would need later. The Superbowl was on the TV in the living room when we left.<br>
On the ride to the hospital, the midwife rode with us and my mother followed in the midwife's van. I sat in the front seat. There were only two contractions on the way to the hospital. I breathed through them carefully. When we arrived, Eric dropped the two of us off at emergency and went to park the car. At this point, the midwife magically transformed into my doula.<br>
There was no triage on the weekend. Someone brought a wheelchair and put me in it, and rolled me up to L&D. She stopped when I had a contraction. I could have walked, but it would have taken much longer. At L&D, the wheelchair stopped at the check-in desk. The counter was the correct height for me to sign things from my wheelchair. I told them the basic information, including that I had prenatal care from an OB/GYN affiliated with the hospital, but only up to four months of pregnancy. They waited for contractions to end, so that I could answer questions. I was completely lucid and able to respond calmly to questions, except during contractions. These came every 5-10 minutes. We pretended that my water had broken at 7 am that morning, instead of the day before.<br>
After the forms were filled and the insurance card and driver's license copied, they assigned me to a labor and delivery room. Number 9, I think. The rooms had a little half-bath, no shower or tub. Not that it mattered. I put on the dreaded hospital gown, and they strapped the external monitor to me and inserted an IV. My doula was in favor of the external monitor, because it would reassure the hospital people that the baby was doing fine. I hated the thing. It was awkward and attached to a cord and quite painful during contractions.<br>
Zillions of people talked to me and asked me the same questions over and over. There was a very nice female resident. Our first nurse was fantastic; she asked us whether we wanted the nursery check to take place in our room, to decline shots, and several other pertinent questions that we really wanted to be asked. She noted all this on our chart. All too soon, her shift ended - had we really been there over three hours? It felt like twenty minutes - and another nurse took over. She was nice too, but not compared to the first nurse. All the nurses seemed a little surprised by us. The hospital's epidural rate is 95-98%, and most of the 2-5% are people who wanted an epidural but didn't get to the hospital in time. I did not want an epidural or any pain meds, and I let that be known in no uncertain terms. The nurses got out the birth ball and the squatting bar, these tools that the hospital stocked but hardly ever got to use.<br>
Fighting contractions was more and more difficult. At least, I told my husband, they were short. He demured, and we timed a couple, and they were each a minute long. After that they didn't feel short. Oops, should not have timed them.<br>
They kept checking my blood pressure and temperature. The electric blood pressure cuff hurt my upper arm.<br>
Nurses and doctors checked me over and over. They made me lay on my back for this. Everyone who checked me had a different opinion of my dilation. I was complete, I was 9 cm, the lip was on the left, the lip was on the front. We wanted the nice resident, but no, she was not a full doctor, or something. They called the OB/GYN office where I had a few prenatal visits before I quit wasting two hours each month to pee in a cup. The doctor on call for them came in in a sweater and jeans. He checked me roughly and then felt my belly, also roughly. He then declared (when I wasn't listening, fortunately) that I was 7-8 cm and the baby was probably breech. This a-hole couldn't tell a full head of hair when he felt it, apparently; the baby was low and it was obviously a head. If I had heard him say this, I'd have yelled at him, "Do you have that much hair on your arse?"<br>
When the doctor left the room, my doula told me, "You do not want him. Ask for the on-call doctor. You do _not_ want him." I told the nurse this, that I wanted the on-call doctor. I had to repeat this request to the head nurse, and then to the a-hole doctor himself. He asked whether he had offended us, and I lied (as my doula requested) and said no, we just preferred the on-call doctor. At least she was female; that gave us a better chance.<br>
Later my doula told me that outside at the nurses station, the doctor made a big stink about how I had had no prenatal care and my baby was going to be malformed or something. He threatened to come in and say something to me, but they convinced him otherwise. It's a good thing, because I'd have told him how much prenatal care at his office was worth. Crap! Crap, crap, crap, crap. "Eat well, get some exercise, see you next month." That is exactly the advice my GYN had for me at each prenatal.<br>
Sometime in there, I got another catheter. Ow, ow, ow.<br>
In the labor room, my doula had more tricks. I swirled my hips during transactions. I squatted down a little, supporting myself on DH's knees, and pushed as my body requested. This felt very good, the best of anything we'd done so far. Unfortunately, the next doctor to check me declared me 8 cm and no pushing allowed. This was Dr. Fisher, the on-call doctor. She was definitely better than Dr. A-hole, but still fairly traditional. Everyone was worried because me water had been broken so long, 18 hours. Yeah, they thought it was 18 hours. It was longer, but I knew the baby was fine and was not worried about the water. The baby had long since plugged the hole with a head and there was no pressure on the cord; the baby's heartbeat was great. Dr. Fisher started in on how I should have an epidural and I-don't-know-what-else because I stopped listening at that point and insisted that I would not have an epidural, just leave me alone. My doula had to talk to her in the hall and explain that we were very educated about this, we were not an off-the-street couple who knew nothing about birth. We had made our choices carefully and would consider options but not ultimatums.<br>
The second time the doctor came in, she was more reasonable. She wanted to give me pitocin because I'd been stalled for so long. I did not want pitocin, because I know that pitocin leads to epidurals. My doula requested some time to talk about it. Then she told me that while the doctor thought I'd been 8-9 cm for a five hours, really it was more like twelve (she realized later it was more like twenty-four), and this was not normal. She said we should consent to the pitocin on the condition that it be administered in the smallest possible dose at first. Hopefully I would not need the epidural.<br>
I freaked out a bit at this point. For the baby's health and my own, I did not not not want an epidural. She sent Eric and me into the bathroom with my IV stand tagging along. He talked to me for a while and calmed me down. I was discouraged and tired, and cried some.<br>
To make this worse, they required an internal contraction monitor for the pitocin drip. Having that inserted was much more painful than contractions. The doctor had difficulty getting it past the baby's head. The cord sticking out was quite awkward and restricted me to the bed. They stuck velcro to my thigh and attached the cord to that.<br>
Finally, I laid down on my side in the bed and the nurse hooked up the pitocin at a very slow drip. I'd been breathing through contractions for hours, and it was very difficult not to push. After the pitocin started, there were three strong contractions that I remember clearly. At each peak (still two per contraction) I tried to moan in the way my doula recommended, but couldn't help a grunting push. My mom, husband, and doula each told me I was doing a good job, that I was handling it, but I knew better. I was pushing. I was failing and would soon need the epidural. When the second contraction came only a few seconds after the first, I felt I was done for. Oh, the pushing urge. The third contraction was a little better than the second, but I still pushed a bit with it. They felt looong.<br>
After these three contractions, Dr. Fisher came in again and checked me. She said I was complete! She said I could push! Oh, joy! Except, it wasn't joy. It was hospital pushing now. Suddenly lots of people were in the room, gloves and masks were on, lights were on, the pressure was on. I know that holding your breath and pushing until you turn purple is a bad idea. At first my doula told me not to do that, to push more naturally. Later, she changed her advice, which confused me. Everyone was giving me instructions and none of them matched, except for: "push harder."<br>
By this time, I'd been in labor for, oh, 35 hours. I was exhausted. I pushed and pushed, three pushes (or so) with each contraction. Only the first push in a contraction was a really good one. After that I was too out of breath. My doula had me wait for the first part of the contraction, to let it build as much as possible, and then push. I felt my tailbone moving out of place, and that is a weeeeird feeling. I didn't like that pressure at all. The only way out is through.<br>
I pushed on my side, on the ball, on my hands and knees, and squatting with the squat bar. I didn't know how to use a squat bar properly. People said I was most effective on my side, so I pushed that way most of the time. Really I was closer to on my back during each push, with people pulling my legs apart. Relax the legs, no, hold them apart, no let us hold them. Push down, push like you're pooping, push those fingers out. The doctor was massaging my perineum with each push.<br>
The NICU team was called in because the doctor thought she saw meconium. I think the meconium panic is a bunch of crap, but there was nothing I could do about it. The doula said that it looked more like olive oil, which she'd been massaging into me earlier. The doctor thought it was meconium. Bunch of dorks, it was olive oil.<br>
Push, push, nothing but push. The baby's head was visible at the peak of each push, was almost bulging out, but then retreated. The baby wasn't past my tailbone yet when the timer expired. One more contractions in each position. "Push harder!" Eric exhorted. "YOU push harder!" I snapped back at him. Two more contractions on my side, and then, we consented, we'd use the vacuum extractor. "Push!" my doula said. "Avoid those stirrups!" I was so tired, I couldn't care less about the stirrups. The contractions passed. I felt that if anything, my pushes were weaker from exhaustion and the thought that the baby would be out soon regardless.<br>
Time for the vacuum extractor. I thought each contraction was the last, but it kept taking one more. One getting into position. One to insert the vacuum extractor. Ow! I get a glimps of it This thing does not look like a little plunger. It's big and yellow with strange plastic formations on it. The doctor puts this into my vagina. A contraction to position it. Another to pull, then reposition. Finally, Eric is saying "keep pulling" instead of "keep pushing." He was a little tired, too. A tiny tug with the vacuum, and the baby is past my tailbone and the head is out. Ow! The vacuum and head coming out together, along with one hand, that hurt.<br>
(The doctor turned the baby's head the wrong way, the midwife told me later. She didn't know how to tell a posterior baby from anterior, it seems.) "Oh finally done," I thought. People called to me to keep pushing. What? The legs weren't out. I pushed again and they came. "You have a baby girl," Dr. Fisher announced. Awesome! A girl!<br>
They gave the scissors to Eric and he cut the cord. Then they took the baby over to the table and wiped and sucked at her for several minutes. Eric held her hand through this, and told her "We'll bring you to mommy very soon." My mother, on the video, said "Welcome to our family."<br>
The placenta delivered with a few more pushes. I had no tears! Then the doctor inserted the speculum and started poking around in there. I was not ready for that! I thought I was done. I was ready to close my legs, thank you very much. But no, she poked and looked and worried about a little bleeding spot and said she might have to sew it. I had declined local anesthetic for the area before the birth, and wasn't keen on shots and messing around down there now. It was sensitive! She stuck a tool in there and pushed on the bleeding spot, and it stopped. The nurse wiped me with rough towels to clean me up. Ow, ow, ow! She was in a hurry.<br>
Finally one of the NICU nurses said, "Oh this is ridiculous. There's nothing wrong with this baby" and brought her to me. I tried to get her out of the blanket for skin-to-skin contact but could not. She gazed up at me, squinting. I asked for the lights to be turned down, but no such luck. I asked again and again. The baby nursed a tiny bit, then just looked at me. Mom asked me whether it was all worth it; I said I didn't know yet. I was still throbbing.<br>
An hour or so after the birth, we went to our recovery room. The nurse, helping me into the wheelchair, remarked that it wasn't often she had a patient who had full use of her legs. The baby had to ride in the little cart. After forty hours of labor, I felt like I'd been hit by a small truck. Eric was exhausted, too, having been up most of the time without the birth hormones to help him. Our baby, Evelyn Joy, was beautiful and healthy. The official time of the birth was 12:11 a.m., Monday, 7 February. She weighed 8 lb 11 oz and was 21 3/4 inches long. She has long fingers and toes. She had a conehead and a bruise from the vacuum, but both went away within two days. She has dark blue/gray eyes, for the moment. She looks like her daddy.<br><br>
Follows, lots of trials with hospital procedures, and finally homecoming. She had trouble nursing that second day, but the midwife came over and helped us get started. Since then, she munches very well, and grows and learns. Good baby!<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"></a>

2,342 Posts
Jessi wow that was a tough labor. You did a really amazing job <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">

3,084 Posts
Yea Jessi! Nothing like having a really trauma filled first birth to make you want to do it all again! You stood strong, mama, and your baby (and you!) are the better for it. Thanks for sharing!!! xxx andy

4,133 Posts
Wow! What an ordeal!<br>
Congratulations on your beautiful girl!

420 Posts
Hi Jessi! I finally read your birth story! You did so awesome hanging in had good persistence, good support, and good luck! Good work all sounds like it was really hard. The dream water birth is something people have to earn, it happens on baby 2, or 3, more often than on baby #1...first babies are hard earned! Hugs to you all, Heidi
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