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I'm posting this story of my daughter's birth, 2.5 years ago, in an effort to process it and in preparation for some counseling I'm starting tonight. I'm pregnant with #2 and want to erase some of my "body memory" and negative associations with late pregnancy and birth.

I had a relatively easy pregnancy until about 33 weeks, when, pretty much simultaneously, my slowly rising blood pressure got troublesome AND I contracted PUPPPs, the pregnancy rash. The PUPPPs was manageable for only a few days before I was desperate, unable to sleep, miserable every moment of the day, and living in a kind of frantic itchy panic all the time. My wonderful wonderful midwife had PUPPPs with one of her pregnancies, and was very sympathetic. After trying a dozen creams, lotions, oatmeal baths, etc., she finally agreed that it was time to bring out the big guns, and at 37 weeks, I went on oral prednisone. After 8 days on the prednisone, I started to see some real relief and was able, finally, to move back into bed with my husband.

However, my blood pressure was getting dangerously high, and the constant cloud of preeclampsia was now hanging over our heads. I did the 24 hour urine collection and there was no protein, and I wasn't gaining weight, but I was now uncomfortable with the racing of my heart. On Monday, May 20, I was put on bed rest -- the beginning of my 39th week. I had an appointment on Wednesday to see one of the OBs in my midwife's practice to discuss possible induction for the BP.

On Wednesday morning, at 5am, I woke with a painful contraction. Not awful -- just not Braxton Hicks. I dozed on and off and noticed that they were coming about every 13 minutes. I thought this might be the real thing, but at 7:30, sent my husband to work anyway. He was going to come home and take me to the doctor at noon anyway. By 9:30am, I was on the toilet, the contractions were about 9 minutes apart, and I had totally emptied my stomach. I called one of the midwives and she said I was probably in early labor, but to come to the office for my noon appointment anyway. I called DH and he came home to be with me. My midwife said I could forget the bed rest and suggested we go for a walk. It was a beautiful sunny day and a lovely walk. The contractions were very manageable.

We stopped to get a smoothie before going in to see the OB, and that tasted great. When I got to the office, though, my BP was 165/100 -- very high for me. Even after resting, and while not contracting, it was that high. The OB was worried about what would happen if my labor took a long time, as I was 80% effaced but only 2cm dilated. He and my midwife agreed that I should have my labor augmented with pitocin, so off DH and I went to the hospital -- after stopping for another smoothie.

When we got to the hospital, it was around 4pm. They didn't check my dilation or anything, but did set up the IV and fetal monitoring so that I could walk around with them. The pitocin started around 5:30. It was really manageable until around 9:30 -- I even played scrabble (and won!), took walks around the halls, etc.

Around 9:30, the contractions got really painful. My midwife was assisting another birth down the hall and running back and forth between us. I was ok with just DH there for a while, but by 10pm, was really having trouble and could have used some extra support. Poor midwife was doing her best but couldn't be in two places at once. I tried standing next to the bed and swaying my hips during contractions, but the pain was all in my back. I tried all sorts of things, some suggested by my midwife (like kneeling on the bed and leaning over a bunch of pillows). DH held an icepack against my back during the contractions -- but around 10:30, the contractions were every 2.5 minutes and lasting over a minute, and I was miserable. I'd then been in labor for 17 hours or so, and with not much sleep over the past few weeks because of the PUPPPs, it was getting to be too much.

Then, my midwife brought me a birth ball to sit on. The first contraction I had on that ball, the baby's heart decelerated so much afterward that my midwife insisted I quickly get off, get on my left side in bed, use an oxygen mask, and breathe deeply to get air to the baby. I didn't really understand what was happening, and didn't want to get in bed, and hated the oxygen mask. Being there for contractions was awful. I started to scream and cry.

Baby stabilized, but I did not. My blood pressure, which they were checking between every contraction (NOT FUN) was now 197/115. I begged for an epidural, but they wanted to be sure the baby was ok before they did that, and then they had to find an anesthesiologist. I didn't get that pain relief until 1:30am.

Once that happened, I was actually ok. I was able to calm down, rest a little, and refocus. I could feel the contractions, but they weren't painful, and we dimmed all the lights in the room to help me sleep. Somewhere in there my midwife had checked me and I was only 6cm. My midwife went to get some sleep in a spare room at the hospital.

Around 4:30am, my epidural wore off and it started to hurt again. Another check and I was only 8cm, and so I asked for a refresh of the epidural. They did it and it wasn't as effective, but a little helpful. Midwife broke my bag of waters and it was clear. I dozed on and off. DH went to get some breakfast around 7:30, midwife did the same, and I was actually alone for a little while -- which in retrospect, I didn't like.

By 8:30, again the epidural was worn off, but I was 9cm and didn't want to refresh it. They still would not let me out of the bed, but I finally was allowed to take off the oxygen mask.

By 9am I was ready to push. My midwife reminded me that first time moms push for an average of 2 hours. They broke off the end of the bed and raised the top of it so I was sitting up. My husband took one leg and a nurse took another, and I braced myself against them to push. My midwife sat at the end of the table and watched, and they were very respectful of my need to push when I wanted to. I gave at least two gargantuan pushes with each contraction, and they kept telling me I was doing a really great job. I thought they were just cheerleading, but later my dh and midwife both told me that I really was a very amazing pusher -- very effective and making a lot of progress with each push. My midwife actually was surprised at how quickly it was going and at one point said I should stop pushing so she could get her scrubs on. She walked away but I could not stop pushing, and kept doing it while she was in the bathroom changing.

She came back and said "Stop, Debi, really! I can't stop you from tearing if you keep pushing" since she knew my biggest fear was a bad tear. I still could not stop. I pushed with an absolutely primal high pitched scream, and she suggested I would do better to yell in a deeper voice. I tried, and felt her crown -- the ring of fire was as horrible as I thought it would be, and I yelled, "I'm tearing in two! I'm ripping in half!" She said, "no, you're not -- you're doing fine." I could not believe something so painful was the result of doing fine!

DD crowned and was covered in meconium. My midwife started cleaning her and calling in a "pit crew" to work on her once I pushed out her body. One more push and out she slithered, tiny tiny tiny little thing, 5lb7oz. She was whisked away for suctioning and checking over while I cried and strained to see her. I heard her crying and asked my midwife if it was a boy or girl. My midwife told me it was a perfect, beautiful baby, small but pink and strong. I was very glad, but still wanted to know the gender. DH told me it was a girl -- a big surprise to me, since I was sure it was a boy. She was born at 9:59am, and we named her Veronica Chaya -- "Ronni."

I don't know what the degree of tear was, but it really took a long time to stitch me up. I tore in the perineum and above my clitoris. I could not hold her while my midwife stitched me, but dh brought her to me and I kissed her and touched her while I waited.

When I finally did get to hold her, I tried to nurse her, but she didn't do much. She had blood sugar issues, and then jaundice, and they just could not get my blood pressure down -- so all told, we spent 5 days together in the hospital. I went to the nursery every 2 hours to nurse her, but she was so sleepy and uninterested. She got one small bottle of formula to try to push out the jaundice.

Eventually, we got the nursing right, I healed, my blood pressure went down after about 6 weeks on medication, and we are now a great team, our little family. She was "colicky" or whatever you want to call it until about 5 months, but then she became a sunshiney kid and still is.

I want different things from my next birth, but don't fault the care I had with dd's. I think they were good -- but don't feel like I know enough to judge whether I had other choices. I'm seeing a counselor tonight to process through all of this, and wanted a space to do this writing. Thanks to anyone who made it this far! TIA to anyone with comment or ideas!

17 Posts
Since you asked for comments or ideas, I would like to add my opinion. First, you did an amazing job! I couldn't imagine living with PUPPS! On top of that, the constant worry about pre-ec. The decisions you made were the right ones for you at the time, but it is very smart to think of the future too. That way, you can make the best decisions to try and prevent PUPPS and pre-ec w/ your next pg. So, I want to tell you what I would do if I was in your shoes. I'd start w/ exactly what you are doing now - posting your story and coming to these boards. If I was to see a counsler, I would choose a counsler that understood the impact that birth has on a woman. Someone who specializes in it - or I wouldn't go at all BUT thats me. I'd be too afraid that they couldn't understand and I would be trying to make them see birth the way I do. Anyway...... I'd find out as much as I could about prevention through diet and herbs. I don't have any specific recommendations of the top of my head but personally, thats the way I'd treat it. At least initially - if herbs and/or homeopathics and/or chiropractic didn't help then I'd go the more medical route but I wouldn't abandon the natural route either.

I'd read, read, read and read some more. Knowledge is power - and there is soooooooo much you can know about birth that if you really want to read a lot, start now. That way, you aren't scrounging for info at the last minute. You can read books, go to websites, join message boards and email lists. Ask for reading suggestions from natural birth minded people.

Third, I'd choose my next careprovider and place of birth carefully. I personally would choose homebirth but if you don't think its a possibility, at least really think about it. Find out as much info as you can - so if your next birth doesn't go as planned, you aren't questioning what you could have done different (well, you'd still question it, but you'd be confident that you made the best decision for yourself based on all the info and not just what your careprovider gives you).

Hope your counseling session helps you process your birth.
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