Birth Story

It’s interesting thinking back 8 months later on my birth and writing it out now. I think this post would have looked different had it been right after giving birth, but with a little perspective I hope this post just highlights the important moments and decisions along the way.

Like all first mom’s-to-be, I had a well thought-out birth plan that I intended to stick to. It wasn’t anything crazy. Just a few reasonable requests:

Labor:

  • Skin to skin immediately and for first hour
  • Heplock in forearm rather than hand or elbow by phlebotomist
  • Please do not offer pain relief unless I ask for it.
  • As long as Baby is doing well, I prefer that fetal heart tones be monitored intermittently with an external monitor or doppler
  • No routine cervical exams. Prefer not to be told how many centimeters dilated I am.

If a C-section is necessary:

  • If C-section is being discussed, please have Beau and Hannah (Doula) get in scrubs
  • Suture not staple preferred
  • I’d like Beau to stay with me when possible, then stay with the baby. If Beau goes with the baby, have the Hannah come stay with me.

Postpartum:

  • I’d like a room away from nurses’ station
  • Please do vital signs for baby and mom at the same time when possible.

Feeding:

  • I would like to meet with a lactation specialist after birth

 

I wrote this up and printed it off about a week prior to my due date. I was all ready (or so I thought) with my bags packed and my birth plan and my doula. My story begins two days before my due date, April 24, 2017

4/24/2017

12:00pm: Two days before my due date I decide to treat myself to a labor inducing massage. I didn’t really believe that it would put me into labor, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to have a nice massage and if it sped things up then great!

But man oh man, it was a little more intense than I anticipated and that night I felt a little bit sore.

4/25/2017

7:30am: I woke in the morning to find that I had lost my mucus plus. So naturally I Googled it and saw that it could be hour to weeks after loosing the mucus plug before you actually go into labor.

I texted my doula to let her know. She responded advising me to go back to sleep and take it easy as much as I could the rest of the day.

Oh had I only listened to the person I was paying to help me through my labor, who had assisted in over 300 births. But the internet said it could be weeks! So I didn’t want to take any precious sick time. Hindsight is 20/20…

So I go to work and I work on getting all my stuff squared away and tidied up, just in case my labor really begins.

12:00pm: I think I am starting to feel contractions… kind of. They aren’t painful but they are different from the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been feeling for weeks.

They are still very sporadic and far apart and I am starting to get a little excited, but also trying to not get my hopes up because again… women can feel sporadic contractions for a long time before true labor begins…

3:00pm: I think my contractions are getting closer together. I am trying not to time them closely. Trying not to obsess about it, because apparently that can slow things down. I decide to leave work early because my boss was out of the office anyway.

I call Beau and let him know that maybe, possibly things are happening and I am going home but he doesn’t need to rush because things aren’t REALLY happening but he should definitely pick up some food on his way home, and extra for left overs.

6:00pm: Beau brought home Pho from one of our favorite Vietnamese restaurants. The rest of the night is very uneventful and my (non)-contractions slowed down to a stop.

So surely nothing was really happening yet.

10:00pm: I had sent Beau to sleep in the spare room because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be up and down with sporadic contractions all night and didn’t want to keep him up. I wanted him well rested in case something happened. Well… something happened!

My water broke! Just as I was laying down to sleep – woosh!

So much for well rested!

I go downstairs and wake up Beau (yes, he falls asleep when he hits the pillow – bastard).

Me: “Hey, my water just broke”

Beau: (a bit disoriented coming out of sleep) “Okay. Okay, okay…. okay” as he climbs out of bed and starts putting on his shoes.

Me: “Wait, we don’t need to leave for the hospital yet. Let’s call Hannah (doula).”

Beau (now waking up a little more): “Oh, okay. I thought we were supposed to go if your water broke.”

Me: “Well, yes but not really. Let’s call Hannah and see what she says”

Hannah said to hang tight and let her know when my contractions are close together and I think I need some help. And no, I didn’t need to rush to the hospital just yet.

Beau and I decide to bake some cookies to take our mind off my contractions – which started pretty light and easy.

4/26/2017 (my due date)

1:00am: I feel like I am ready for the doula. My contractions are getting stronger and closer together. A lot of the pain is in my back and Beau has been massaging my back while I bounce on a pilates ball.

Hannah arrives and I ask her to check my cervix. I don’t want to be checked a lot, but I am curious where I am at. I am starting to leak a lot of fluid with each contraction. Hannah thinks I am dilated to a one or a two. Still a ways to go – but it hasn’t been long.

As the night wears on my contractions are getting stronger and closer together. Still a lot of pain in my back, which I had failed to mention to Hannah (second mistake). At one point she asked if a lot of the pain was in my back. “it’s all in my back” I said.

I labored for a while on my hands and knees, trying to do the belly lift to change her position, didn’t work.

I labored in the shower with Beau rubbing my back. No help.

I labored in the tub, but that was the worst decision of all. We don’t have a big water heater and the water was not hot enough. It was cold. Beau and Hannah started boiling pots of water on the stove to dump in the tub for me. It wasn’t great.

5:00am: Now my contractions are really intense and they are coming every minute if I am lucky, but a lot of them are coming on top of each other. Things are escalating. Hannah says it’s time to go to the hospital.

This baby is on it’s way! I think to myself.

Trying to get my dressed was a challenge. Each time I put on underwear I would have a contraction and more fluid would come out and wet my pants (glamorous, I know). Finally I was able to get on a try pair of underwear and pants with a giant pad so I didn’t leak everywhere.

I can barely make it into the car because my contractions are coming so close together I am convinced I am going to have one in the driveway. Good thing it’s 5am and dark out and no one is around.

Beau pulls up to the front doors. There’s no valet at 5am at the hospital so he parks illegally by the front doors to help me in and intends to go back and move the car once I am settled. Hannah has followed in her own vehicle.

We go up to labor triage to get checked in. They check me and let me know that my water has, indeed, broke (It was pretty clear it had, but they have to check anyway).

Then they check to see how far dilated I was….

wait for it…

1

One

ONE?!!?!?!

You have got to be fucking kidding me!

I tell Beau that I can’t do it. I feel so defeated. My contractions are giving me no breathing room, no chance to catch my breath and regroup. It’s rough.

Apparently when your baby is posterior, or sunny-side-up (the cute way of describing a NOT CUTE AT ALL situation), baby’s head is pressing against your tailbone causing a lot of back pain. Baby’s head is supposed to be pressing against your cervix to help it dilate open. So with no pressure on the cervix and lots of pressure on the tailbone, there no progression and lots of pain. And apparently no real good way to fix it.

There are lots of internet sites out there claiming to have strategies for fixing this scenario, but unfortunately the research says there’s not much to be done.

Of course I didn’t know this in the middle of labor, else I would have asked for the epidural MUCH sooner. Instead I went on to labor at the hospital in their tub for several more hours before finally asking for the epidural.

10:00am: I get the epidural. And it helped. Too well. I almost immediately feel comatose from the waist down. This was better than the pain I’d been having before, but it was still uncomfortable enough that I wasn’t able to sleep (which they told me to try to do).

At least Beau and Hannah got to nap while I lay there resting.

Around this time my OBGYN comes in and checks my cervix. I have made it to a 4. Boy am I glad I went for the epidural. I will be even more glad later – but we’ll get to that…

I am so uncomfortable from the waist down that I ask if they can lower my epidural strength. They start everyone at a 10.

The anesthesiologist comes in and is reluctant to reduce the dose, saying they don’t want my pain to come back. They do lower it to an 8. I still can’t feel anything

2:30pm: Around this time my OBGYN comes to check me again. She informs me that I have dilated to a 10 and can start pushing!

Hooray!

OBGYN: “Try pushing against my fingers”

ME: “What fingers”

OBGYN:”Can you feel anything?”

ME:”Nope, I am completely comatose. I asked them to reduce the dose and they did but it didn’t help”

OBGYN: “Let’s get them back in here…”

In all the anesthesiologist comes back three times to reduce me to 2 before I start getting feeling back and can start pushing.

and pushing….and pushing….and pushing…

4:30pm: They want to start Pitocin because I am not progressing fast enough. I am reluctant because I’ve heard it makes everything more painful. And if I increase my epidural I am afraid I wont be able to feel to push. Finally though I relent, because I fear that we will end up in emergency c-section if I don’t get this baby out faster.

They start the Pitocin and increase the epidural to a 4. This seems to be the perfect balance. I can still feel but it’s not painful.

I have, however, at this point been awake for 33 hours. And I am starting to feel exhausted. 

But I keep pushing… and pushing… and pushing

and FINALLY….

8:05pm: She’s here! She finally makes her screaming entrance into the world. They lay her on my abdomen and she poops on me. It was perfect. 

They cut the cord so I can hold her higher in my arms and get to work on stitching me back up.

I think we’re home free, but here’s where the real fun begins…

My placenta isn’t coming out. It’s not budging at all.

9:00pm: They finally say that the placenta NEEDS to come out. Like NOW. And they proceed to un-stitch me, and reach in to manually extract it.

in pieces.

several pieces.

This part was the most acutely painful part of the entire experience. They were ripping my placenta away from the wall of my uterus with their fists.

I guess I can cross fisting off my bucket list (joking).

Thank God I got the epidural. I cannot imagine what that would have felt like un-medicated.

MIDNIGHT: We finally make it to the maternity ward sometimes around midnight after they removed my placenta, re-stitched me back up, and made sure I wasn’t going to hemorrhage.

I had been awake around 40 hours. I was exhausted.

But I had a healthy baby that was finally here. I would do it all again…

Differently…. I would do it all again differently. Hindsight is 20/20

 

 

 

 

 

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Doulas

Sorry I suck at blogging right now! I have so much to share I just haven’t had time to sit down and share it. Growing a baby is a lot of work! Today I am 31 weeks and 6 days! 

We interviewed our third Doula a couple weeks ago and I think we’ve found our winner! She seems really open and calming, just exactly what you’d want in a Doula, but almost just as important is that she is midwife certified and has attended around 300 births! She still charges less than the first Doula option we interviewed because she doesn’t offer any of the little extras. For instance, the first Doula takes notes about your birth during the process and writes you a birth story and also gives you some kind of trinket or charm after you’ve delivered. I am totally fine with passing up those little extras, in return for a more educated Doula who can come to my house and is certified to check my blood pressure, baby’s heart rate and my cervix for dilation while I am in labor, thus giving me a better opportunity to labor at home longer and knowing when I need to go to the hospital. I can’t tell you how reassuring this is.

I have had many friends give birth in their homes. Somehow it is more common in my area of the west than the general population. I assume this is something to do with the culture of frontierism and libertarianism. People around here are a little more suspicious of government and somehow that bleeds into modern medicine and doctors. Even some of my friends who I would consider to be more liberal on most issues (as opposed to libertarian) have chosen to give birth at home with midwives rather than at a hospital. However, I am not one who feels totally comfortable giving birth in my home without trained doctors and medical equipment on the ready should an emergency arise. 

I fall somewhere in the middle of showing up to the hospital and just doing whatever the doctor says, and not wanting the doctor involved at all. This is where the Doula/Midwife comes in. I think it is the best of both worlds to have a birth advocate who can keep me comfortable in my home for as long as possible, and help me to achieve an epidural-free hospital birth, which is my goal. 

I have a few reasons for wanting to try and epidural-free birth. The most important being that I have low blood pressure. Epidurals can cause your blood pressure to drop further, and if that happened to me and it tanked my blood pressure to be “too low” I would end up with an emergency c-section. That is the last thing I want. So that is the biggest reason, in addition to not wanting to be considered a “fall risk” and then restricted to the bed for the entirety of my laboring. Being able to move around and try different birth positions (squatting, all-fours, etc…) seems to be the key in finding the most effective way for an individual to give birth with the least amount of complications (delayed labor, tearing, etc…).

At the same time I am trying to keep an open mind and be gentle on  myself. If I end up in stalled labor without the epidural and the contractions are getting to be more than I can handle, I will allow myself to give into the epidural. I will not see this as a failure if it happens. As long as I bring a healthy baby girl into the world at the end of it all, it will be a successful birth. I truly believe that there are no wrong decisions to be made when it comes to giving birth, we all do what we feel is best for ourselves and our babies.

I have, unfortunately, encountered some people who have stronger opinions on the matter. I don’t bring up my birth plan in conversation with anyone, but if someone asks I am open to letting them know what my intentions are. I have been disappointed in a friend who recently gave birth, who I thought would be more sympathetic to the plight of pregnant women and the judgement we all receive, only to be met with comments like “women who want to have an un-medicated birth are trying be martyrs so they can brag about it” and “our ancestors who didn’t have pain medication in birth would think we were stupid to decline them.”

None of her comments have made me question my choices. It’s just sad that we as women place so much judgement on each other! I never once told her that choosing and epidural for her birth was bad in any way. It was the right choice for her. She had an easy, uncomplicated birth with no tearing. I am happy for her. It’s just that I want to try something different. We need to practice more acceptance of each other as women and not be so quick to compare ourselves to others or judge them for the choices they make.

On a positive note: Weekend before last I had a friend (a different friend) take some maternity photos of me! And then this last weekend Beau and I took a short babymoon to Las Vegas to enjoy some warmer weather and a some relaxation before this baby arrives! Expect updates on both soon! (if I can get my shit together and actually blog haha)