Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Yoga Baby; A Birth Story

Selfies taken from video diaries I made. Top left; 1:30am before we went to the hospital, Bottom right; 4am after we found out for sure we were stuck at the hospital for the duration.

Part of me wanted to start this post, "It was a dark and stormy night..." because it was very dark and very stormy - and on some weird level I knew (even predicted) my baby would be born during a storm.

Instead I'm starting like this...

On Friday, December 12th at 10:55pm, our son was born.

I didn't know at first whether I would want to share my birth story, but I think every woman's experience is different and the more open and honest we are about how our births unfolded, the more we can bond and help future mothers prepare, no matter how much or as little goes as we planned and hoped.

For the record, I wanted a zero medical intervention, zero pain meds, vaginal birth. As expected for a crunchy mama like myself, yes?

On Thursday, December 11th I went in to see the midwife for what would be my final prenatal check up. Before checking to see if I was dilated any further, she asked - if I had dilated enough - would I like her to "do [her] midwifey thing" to maybe get things moving along - meaning sweep the membranes and *hopefully* naturally induce labor. At 40 weeks and 6 days, I said "sure". I'd heard it was uncomfortable. I thought the cervical checks were pretty uncomfortable anyway, so a little extra pressure, a twinge of pain and an involuntary grunt from me later, my membranes were swept.

The rest of the day I felt mild contractions as I went about my regular business. Hubs and I went to the gym, had dinner together. I bounced on a birth ball, tried to stay as active as possible the rest of the day and we ended up getting to sleep around 11pm.

At 12:44am on Friday I woke because I felt wetness I thought may have been me peeing myself. Moments later I felt another small gush and was pretty sure I had not peed myself, and my water had broken. I got up to change, check the color and odor (like we'd learned in birthing class). Clear, odorless.

I woke up Tim, thinking I would just call up labor and delivery, tell them my water broke and all was clear and good, and I could go back to sleep. I was wrong.

I called and was told that I should come in to get checked out. At 2am, we made sure we had all our stuff packed up in the car, gave Panda a hug and resolved to call my parents to come pick her up when a) we had more information and b) it was a more reasonable time of day to call and wake up the soon-to-be-grandparents.

We got checked in and were set up in a labor room - a tiny room where they could watch my progression. They set me up on the monitor. We met the nurse who would be with us through the night shift. Her name was Michaela. The doctor on call checked me - still 1 cm - but we would not be going home. I had been so sure I'd be able to labor at home. Because my water had broken, baby and I were at a higher risk for infection. I would need to be monitored intermittently for the duration. I was disappointed, but we were pretty sure we'd be able to move into one of the bigger, more labor friendly rooms in a few hours, so I put on my grown up pants - or rather, my hospital gown and nonslip socks - and postulated how the rest of the day might go.

Until about 10am, they hooked me up to the monitors for 20 minutes every hour, checking my blood pressure, baby's heart rate, my contractions, and my temperature. Hubs and I used the hours off the monitors to walk around the hospital. We found an oft travelled outdoor walkway where we spent a good amount of time. The air was fresh and cold outside. It rained through most of the morning. Hubby danced with me in the cold air, and made me laugh even though I wished we were at home.

Around 10am the midwife, Angela, (I ended up with a midwife I'd met before! Yay!) checked me again - 1 1/4 cm now, only 1/4 cm progress in 8 hours. I was crushed. She explained to me that because my water had broken and I wasn't having really strong contractions, we needed to consider giving me a small amount of pitocin to get things going, because the longer we went after my water breaking, the higher the risk for infection, the greater danger to me and baby.

I knew it was the right thing to do, but I asked if we could have some time to think about and talk it over. In my brain, I kept hearing statistics linking induction to emergency c-sections. I had to get that out of my head. 

We waited until noon and then the nurse - now a woman named Laurie - hooked up the IV and got the pitocin going. She told me she was going to wait, and somewhere in there I missed when she actually started it, so when I started having stronger regular contractions - the kind hubs had to coach me through - I was surprised.

(About 30 minutes after she started Pitocin, I had the contraction from hell. It lasted over 5 minutes. I was nothing in terms of strength  - as I would learn later - but it had me whimpering to my hubby because it just would not end. As soon as it was over, I got up to pee - I hadn't realized I had to go so bad. Apparently that was why the contraction hurt so much and lasted so long. I spent the rest of my labor getting up to pee frequently) 
Contractions picked up after that. Hubs was an incredible labor coach. He was on top of everything. Guiding my breathing through each contraction, making sure I knew when they were almost over, holding my hand, asking me what I needed - ice chips, a back rub, a cookie. 

It was another few hours before they checked me again - yet another result of my water breaking. I was desperate to know how I was progressing. They checked around 6pm. I was still only 3 cm. That was hard to swallow. It was looking like I wouldn't have this baby until the next morning. I was already in a lot of pain. Giving birth seemed still so far in the future.

They turned up the pitocin a little bit at some point. I'm not sure when. Contractions were stronger but hubs was helping me through them. I started hanging out on the toilet through about half of my contractions. (TMI?) Don't knock it, man.

** Edit ** During this time I was absolutely miserable. I have a very distinct memory of Tim kneeling in front of me while I was sitting in the bathroom, saying, "If you want pain meds, you are going to need to convince me that that's what you really want. I know how important it was to you to do this without it. Now, do you want an epidural? You need to convince me." and I wimpered back at him, "I don't know", and that was that. I obviously didn't convince him. I couldn't even convince myself.  **

There was another shift change. Laurie was replaced by Krystle, who would be with us for the durations. Krystle brought me a yoga ball to sit on instead of the toilet. Total game changer.

I labored on the yoga ball for as long as they would let me - at least two hours, maybe longer. They were having a hard time picking up baby's heart rate through the monitor because he was moving so low. After several attempts to get the monitor to stay in place as low as it needed to be, Krystle told me we needed to consider placing an internal monitor to track baby's vitals.  If I didn't want internal monitors (wires up my hoo-ha connected to baby's head) then I would need to change position, get off the yoga ball and see if we could get a better reading laying on my back. My contractions were so painful at this point, my inner toddler was having a tantrum about moving back onto the bed, but I did it - and as quickly as I possibly could to avoid having a contraction while I was moving.

I got re-hooked up to the monitors, we found baby's healthy heart beat, and then I was stuck on my back. I don't have much concept of time after that. It seemed to all go by really fast. I think it was around 10pm when Krystle checked me again. 7 1/2 cm and we had the O.K. to move into a delivery room. It took some maneuvering and waiting through contractions to get me onto the wheelchair. By this time my exhales were audible groans, and had been for a couple of hours.

I was given instructions to let Krystle know when I had an uncontrollable urge to push. She noticed my legs shaking during my contractions and decided to check me again. 9 1/2 this time. I swear only like 10 minutes had gone by since I was 7 1/2 but I think it was probably more like a half hour. Krystle asked me if I felt like I needed to push. I told her I didn't know but during the contractions I felt like I was trying to hold him in - like he was so low, he would just come out on his own.

She immediately ran to get the delivery team. I had maybe two more contractions (for a total of 5 once we were in the delivery room). They gave me a final check - still not quite 10cm, but they were going to push what remained out of the way so it didn't tear.

I pushed for 15 minutes. Pushing was significantly less painful than the last two hours of contractions had been. It was the easy part. We (me, Krystle and hubs) pressed my knees up into my armpits as I bore down with everything I had. The midwife gave me a heads up that we were approaching the "ring of fire" but pushing and the resultant exit of a baby from my body felt like such sweet relief by that point, I barely noticed.

I am still surprised by how quickly that part went. There was less than a full second of time between when he was out and when he took his first breath. For Tim, that moment was an eternity. I heard him ask "why isn't he crying?!" but by the time I looked right at the baby, he was wailing like a banshee.

They put him on my chest for a few minutes. Timmy cut the cord and I vaguely remember having to put forth some effort to push out the placenta. I remember the gush. It surprised everyone who saw it - which was not me because I couldn't keep my eyes off my baby.  I'd lost a lot of blood. They were prepared with O-positive since red heads are, apparently, bleeders, but I didn't end up needing it.

My parents were standing out in the hall and heard his first wail. They came in to see us after baby and I were cleaned/stitched up.

And that was it. Nothing like I imagined when it comes right down to it, but we're happy, healthy, and home. No major interventions were needed. I was bummed about needing pitocin, but we were able to avoid that pesky internal monitor. I managed to do it without any pain meds, and major surgery was avoided.

Start to finish, my labor was 22 hours and 10 minutes. Though the first 12 or so hours were pretty easy. I've been asked a few times if I would do it again, and the further we get from that day, the more likely I am to say yes. Though there is still a chance that our little guy will be an only child.

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