My birth story

laborPic-1

Saturday, February 8

Around 5pm I started to feel what I could only think were contractions. Nothing timeable – totally random. They were gone by morning, but what took their place was a nasty head cold.

Sunday, February 9

5pm again, stronger feelings. These seemed like the real deal. I could time them {20 min apart}, and they hit like a subtle wave, going thru my body starting in my back. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t sleep – which I did, thinking we’d be going to the hospital by morning – but I also had to fight with a mild fever that had latched onto my ongoing head cold. These contractions, too, eventually disappeared. Luckily, so did my fever.

Awesome. This could be my life for the next week or more – anxiously analyzing pangs and pains, only to be disappointed. That’s the wonderful thing about being close to labor, every single sign that says “this could be it” only means it could be hours, or weeks away!

Monday, February 10

Cory woke up to tell me we had a guy coming to give us an estimate on home insulation re-beefing. I still had about another hour to sleep, so I did.

Around 8am, Cory said the guy’s car wouldn’t start and he’d be calling later to let us know when he could make it. Cory went to work. I went back to bed.

{I am so glad we both got that – last – good night’s sleep …}

9:30am

I had to go to the bathroom. I started to gently toss my {now giant} body over, when it felt like I, well, was already going. Uh oh.

I jumped up and started hopping to our bathroom. It wouldn’t stop, but I somehow made it to the bathroom floor without making a mess on our bedroom carpet. The bathroom floor was not spared.

Fluid was going everywhere! I would stand in one spot, then hop to another, then another, finally landing in our tub. By this point, there was no confusion about what this was – my water had just broken.

I checked the color {something, that, after photographing many births, I knew my doctor/nurses would want to know} – deep yellow. “Is that bad? I think that’s bad …” I freaked.

I called Cory and said “we have to go to the hospital NOW”. He calmly said he was on his way.

I called my mom.

I called my Dr’s Office.

Everyone reassured me – things were fine. Take a shower. Head to the hospital. I still wasn’t feeling any concrete contractions at this point.

Cory came home to find me sitting on a pile of towels on the bathroom floor, probably looking somewhat pathetic. We both took a shower, loaded up the car, and went on our way {myself, still leaking, gerry-rigged a towel under a flowy skirt – so I might make it at least to our room with a little dignity}.

Heading down the elevator, me with my belly, Cory with our bags. An older couple peered curiously at us and asked “Is it time?”

I was 1cm when we got to the room {at 11:30am}, the same as I had been the Tuesday before. The nurse said she was a little concerned about the color of the fluid – that he might have passed meconium inside. I knew this was bad and might force them to intervene. When she left the room, I sobbed, terrified that the baby might be stressed {thank God, this was not the case}.

With such weak, sporatic contractions, and broken waters, I knew we were on a clock, so after ordering a nice lunch to our L&D room, Cory and I started walking laps.

4 hours later, I still hadn’t made any progress, and contractions were still pretty subtle and random. I was also still dealing with my cold – and the sickness was sapping my energy. It became pretty clear that walking laps was doing nothing to speed up my labor, but was doing everything to exhaust me. I knew I’d never have the strength to push if this kept up.

6:00pm

My nurse started me on Pitocin, which meant I was now confined to my room. This was fine by me, as moving short distances at a time seemed more suitable for slightly-sick me. I tried out different positions and techniques, moving between the bathroom and bed frequently, anticipating when the REAL contractions {that I knew were coming} would hit.

And hit they did. By midnight, my steady low moaning {something else I had witnessed/learned in other labors, meant to relax the body and “open” everything up – that came out very, well, “moo-y”} and swaying weren’t doing the trick.

Tuesday, February 11

My absolute favorite position through contractions was holding onto the closed bathroom door handles, where I would squat low, slowly lean in, arch my back, and slowly return to standing {repeat}. The problem with this, was the distance from my bed to the door. I had been trying to catch a little rest, and would lie down between contractions, but with the double-peaks I was experiencing, and their growing intensity, I would often be mid-contraction by the time I got to my spot.

To add to that, my legs had started to cramp pretty severely, meaning standing – the ONLY way I could get thru the pain – was becoming near impossible.

12:00am

I was barely at 2cm when they checked me again.

As I stood, grasping my door handles, going thru another awful contraction, two thoughts went thru my head: “I want an epidural. I am a terrible person.”

I specifically had told the nurses and my doctor NOT to even mention pain meds as an option to me. I thought it would stress out the baby, make my mind groggy, slow my labor …

A few minutes later, the anesthesiologist was in the room, setting up the epidural.

I had to sit upright on the bed while he worked on my back. We had to go thru two heavy contractions in that position, and I clung to Cory’s hand and howled “Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow” thru them both.

The epidural kicked in about 30 minutes later. A slow creeping feeling of numbness that made it’s way from my belly down to the tips of my toes. And then … according to my brain, I had no legs, in fact, the entire bottom half of my body had completely vanished. I was a chopped up torso without the ability to wiggle my toes, turn myself over in bed, or bend at the knees.

I completely flipped out.

I wanted the epidural shut OFF. And I wanted it off NOW. This state was so much worse. I had always had a fear of being pinned down, unable to move. I hate tight shoes that restrict toe wriggling. It’s just one of those weird things about me. And the constant mental anguish of trying, and failing to move my legs and feet was putting me in quite a panic.

The nurse was very calm and she and Cory talked me into trying to relax and rest {no easy feat, as many of you who know me will attest, I am quite stubborn}. They showed me my legs in a mirror – Cory manually bent my legs and moved my feet for me to see. I even took a pill to help me sleep {it didn’t}, but by this time, some combination of the medication and my extreme anxiety had brought on uncontrollable shaking {this didn’t stop til I started pushing} – let’s just say, sleep was not happening.

The anesthesiologist returned. I told him I wanted to feel my legs. He told me I would start to feel contractions again. So be it, I said. And we agreed on a nice middle – he turned the epidural down to 50% strength {something I didn’t even know was ever an option}. It was a struggle to let myself remain calm as it wore off over the next two hours. I had to tell myself NOT to try moving my toes, til I could reeeeally move my toes – otherwise, I would only work myself up again in frustration.

Even before they started the epidural, the baby’s heart rate caused a little concern. It was dipping from time to time, so the nurses would flop me from one side to the other {still numb, at this point} and shove odd-shaped pillows between my legs to elevate me, just so, to settle the baby. This also meant the Pitocin had to be shut off.

3:00am

About the time total sensation started to come back, I made it to 8cm. The nurse was shocked that I had made so much progress on my own, and within another couple hours, she gave me a happy grin and said:

“Guess what, you’re finished”.

The nurse gave me a little boost of epidural, and started up the Pitocin to help with this final stage {as baby’s heart rate was back to normal} – I gave a practice push. What a feeling. I was in this space between pain and sensation. I FELT everything – the pressure of him moving further down, even when he would wiggle his head in the canal – but nothing actually hurt. It was something I can’t even really describe.

That was the routine for the next hour and a half. I would feel the pressure of a contraction, and I would say “push”. Cory would take one leg, the nurse would take the other. I would take a deep breath, curl my chin to my chest, and bear down. Steady. Then, able to feel him lower, I would maintain that pressure while taking in another deep breath. This repeated three times with every contraction. Breath – push – maintain – breath – push …

I would relax between contractions, chatting idly with Cory and the nurse. Making jokes. Taking a quick snooze. It was, dare I say … extremely pleasant. Enjoyable even! It is not a stretch to say, I LOVED those last two hours.

The nurse called my doctor, and had me lie on my side til he arrived, steadily breathing though contractions.

When my doctor entered, the nurse chirped “let’s show him what you’ve done!” It felt like show and tell, and let’s be honest, I did feel pretty proud in that moment.

Everyone got into position. More nursing staff entered the room and happily greeted each other. The doctor sat at my knees and told me to push – slowly – then “stop stop stop!!”

I could feel that he was working on something – still no pain – just an awareness. I heard him ask for “the bulb”. I knew this was to clear the baby’s passages. Passages? What? He can see passages?? I asked the doctor what he wanted me to do now {I was still just waiting on my next orders after the initial “give me a slow push”} – he said “I want you to reach down and take your baby”.

I cried “he’s out!??”

7:10am

Cory confirmed that this was, indeed, the case, so I reached out, and took hold under my baby’s tiny arms as he came up into view.

I had this startling realization that this was someone I was only just now meeting.

I laid him on my chest as the nurses rubbed him and cooed over him.

He let out his first cry.

Cory and I were both beside ourselves. Happy tears. Exhausted. Excited. Overwhelmed.

//////////////////////////////

Over the next two hours, we relaxed in recovery. The baby nursed {like a champ} – bright eyed and curious. The staff checked his stats {perfect, they said}. And we ate lunch.

It’s the strangest thing. I never wanted to labor the entire time in a hospital. I didn’t want Pitocin. I did NOT want an epidermal. I hated the idea of laboring on my back – let alone PUSHING on my back.

But I did them all. And it was the best decisions I could have made – for me. We had a few hiccups finding the right combinations, but in the end, I delivered a healthy, happy, alert baby, while being able to be in complete control while I pushed – focused on every muscle and movement. Free of pain.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’d do it all again tomorrow. And the next day.

3 thoughts on “My birth story

  1. Beautiful. It made me cry.

    I am so so so so so happy for you and Cory!! Congratulations!! And you’re one tough mama – what a grueling labor!

  2. I am a L&D nurse and loved your story. I love to help women have an unmedicated birth but sometimes interventions can prevent a C-section. I enjoyed your details and you are an amazing woman.

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