Saturday, June 5, 2010

Birth Story

I’ve been meaning to write my birth story for quite a while but I I’ve been afraid to start because nothing I write can do justice to the emotions I felt and the awe and purity and shock of meeting my son. But if I don’t write, the memories will fade. This will be a long post, because I want to remember all of the details.

It all started Monday, May 31st. I was past my due date which wasn’t a big deal to me, and Nathan had been off work for three weeks. (He had to skip going to Puerto Rico with his crew in case Shane came, but that left him without work.) That Monday I went to the doctor marked the beginning of his paid vacation week, at the end of which he was going to have to return to work. That was a big deal to me! Those of you who followed my blog from the beginning know that I wanted a natural childbirth—without an induction. However, I was now faced with the choice of having an induction or giving birth to our son without my husband. I chose induction. Friday, June 4th was going to be our big day!

I have to just give a quit shout out right here to my dad. I had been keeping “birth day bets” on Facebook and my dad picked the 4th as the day Shane would be born. Dad, you wanted to know what you won for being right? Well, here it is! National acclaim and recognition on my blog!

Anyway, I was SO excited. I knew what day I was going to meet my sweet baby! I called my mom so that she could get schedule a flight, and went home to do last minute cleaning and chores. Mom arrived on Wednesday, and we spent a fun Thursday walking around the local antique mall and finding a place to get her hair cut. That afternoon she mopped and waxed my floors, while I took a nap! What kind of love is that!

I spent my last few days of pregnancy embracing every movement, every kick and squirm and hiccup. I had done my best to embrace every moment of being pregnant anyway, but this was different. It was more final. I was ecstatic to meet my baby, already so loved, but I was also sad that it was going to be over. I’ve always liked the word poignant and that is how I would describe these last days, hours, minutes. They were poignant moments, they are poignant memories. I loved that my mom got to see me pregnant and got to feel the kicks and thumps. Once I had my mom I was more relaxed. I knew that she would take care of me and I was able to stop worrying about taking care of myself.

Our induction was scheduled for 7:30 and that meant we needed to leave our house by 6:30. I was ready, mom was ready, and Nathan? Was still in bed. Seriously. His inability to get out of bed is a long standing point of tension but I couldn’t believe that this day, of all days, this day that was so important to me, he wouldn’t get out of bed. But we finally got to the hospital and up to labor and delivery where we met our nurses.

Our nurses were Christy and Rhonda. Both are experienced L&D nurses, but Rhonda was new to the hospital so Christy was supervising. They were both so wonderful but Christy was especially great. Throughout the entire experience she knew exactly how to treat me and how to talk to me. They gave me a gown and some instructions and left us alone for a while. Nathan blew up my exercise ball while I changed and then the three of us sat around talking and joking.
We had said throughout my pregnancy that we wanted it to be just us when we had the baby, but since my mom was here in time Nathan said he wanted her there to help with labor. He just wanted it to be us during the delivery. Then the nurses came in to start my IV. Rhonda filled out a bunch of information on the computer (8:10 am) and Christy put on the baby’s heart rate monitor, contraction monitor, and my blood pressure cuff (8:15 am). As Christy slid my IV in (8:20 am)I looked over at Nathan (who was not supposed to be watching, as he is extremely squeamish) and he was pale and about to pass out. Mom sat him down and the couch and put his head between his legs. He later told me that he didn’t mean to look, just turned his head at the wrong moment. Anyway, after that happened Nathan decided that he would like mom to be there for delivery as well! I was happy with his decision. Mom wrote that the pump was at 6—2 milliunits/min.

I can’t express how grateful I was to have my mom there. This is the kind of thing that women want to talk about over and over and details and again and again and on and on and….And men are like, “yeah, you had the baby, you did great, THE END.” And my mom is such a warm comfort and so willing to talk about it over and over. She knew exactly what to do when. She gave us space when we needed it and support when I needed it and really was just wonderful. Thank you so much mom!

Mom was going to go buy tea and a Danish so she offered to buy me a mag. I wanted a gossip mag, People I think, just as a fun thing while I waited. I found out later that she was also giving us time alone. Nathan and I sat there and watched TV for a while. Criminal minds. They were all re-runs, so I kind of spaced out. We talked a little, and this was when we decided to have mom there for the entire time. Nathan had also decided not to cut the cord (he told me that since before I even got pregnant). I was going to do it, but since mom was there I kind of wanted her to have the honor. Nathan thought that was a great idea. I hope you were honored, mom! Mom was gone for so long that Nathan eventually went to go look for her. We thought she’d gotten lost!

I got up frequently to go to the bathroom which I believe was a funny sight; I was hooked up to the IV pump, which had to go with me everywhere, and I also had cords hanging off me for a blood pressure monitor and the contraction monitors. Nathan and mom took turns helping me unplug cords and push the pump and keep everything out of the way.

Nathan was great through my labor as well. During the beginning, when things were just getting started he was on the internet which was fine with me since we were just hanging out. Then his dad started calling and wanting Nathan to find him a truck on craigslist. And he kept calling, and calling, and calling. It was getting distracting and irritating and I thought it wasn’t very thoughtful, since he knew we were at the hospital. I think Nathan eventually just told his dad he really couldn’t talk anymore and turned off his phone. I’m not sure exactly what happened. My memories get foggy after the contractions got stronger. But as I got further into labor Nathan got more and more supportive. I’m so glad that he was there! At the beginning he was nervous but he got more confident about how to help me as time went on. Mom, having given birth, was able to give him some direction when I couldn’t talk anymore. He was a trooper!

Dr. H came in to check me and I was a three and a half. My contractions were mild and 7 minutes apart. While he was there he broke my amniotic sac (9:49 am). Fluid gushed and gushed! The nurses said that I had a lot of fluid—I drank TONS of water while I was preggo! I was really embarrassed about all of the fluid and the poor nurses having to clean it up but after a while I told myself to just get over it. At some point as labor progressed I looked up at the TV as Law and Order came on. “I hate this show!” I said. Mom suggested that maybe that meant it was time to turn off the TV and we laughed.

Mom wrote at 10:10 am “I don’t know when they changed it, but pit drip is now 4mu/min and pump reads 12.”

At 10:30 am she wrote, “Increased pit again to 6mu/min and pump at 18. Contractions mild but 2-5 min apart.” I think I was standing and swaying with my contractions, trying to use gravity to help bring the baby down.

Eventually, when contractions were getting pretty strong and close, I wanted to sit on the exercise ball. The lovely nurses put towels down on the floor and pads on the ball and helped me sit down. At 11:50 am Mom wrote, “Increased pit to 8 mu/min and pump to 24. Gushing amniotic fluid with every contraction =). Sitting on ball. Had been standing a while.” I remember that I rocked, and every time I rocked a little more fluid would come out, and somehow that really helped the contractions be less painful. Nathan sat behind me sometimes so I could have a break and lean back. They both talked when I wanted to and encouraged me. I did really well while I was on the ball. I concentrated and rocked and breathed well during contractions and talked in between.

After a while the nurses came back in and wanted to check me. On the bed. I didn’t want to get up but they helped me stand and as I stood I had contraction. It was horrible, just horrible. I thought I was going to pass out. So did my mom, I think. She wrote at 1:00 pm, “Had to stand—VERY strong contr. Hard to manage in standing position. Nauseated. Nurse did internal—said 3-4 cm. Very pale. I thought she would faint.” I went white and my legs buckled—I would have fallen if the nurses hadn’t held me up. They talked me through it but I couldn’t breathe and so I couldn’t deal with the pain. Next time I’m telling them no way, I’m staying right here on my ball and you can check me when I have to push!

Once they got me onto the bed, I was there for the rest of my labor. I think that was my big mistake. I knew that Pitocin was going to make it really hard to have a natural labor but I still was trying. I think if I’d been able to stay comfortable I may have been able to do it. But who knows? When the nurses got me on the bed they checked me and I was only dilated to a four. After hours! And I went in at a three! I told myself it was okay, my body was working hard for me.

I was feeling really nauseous so they nurses gave me a tube to hold—much better than that ridiculous emesis basin! What is that supposed to contain, I ask you?! I threw up a few times (1:55ish pm) and mom held me while Nathan got a cool cloth for my forehead. I was so touched by that thoughtful gesture. He later told me that he went to the sink so he could get a minute because he was feeling squeamish, but I don’t care. I still think it was thoughtful. And what is throwing up? It’s a classic sign of transition, that’s what! Unfortunately neither mom or I remembered that.

Things get REALLY foggy after that. The pitocin had my contractions peaking unnaturally high and with NO rest between. Mom tells me that I was breathing really well and moaning in a low tone but I remember thinking that I was only a four, and I couldn’t handle getting to a ten, not with my contractions coming endlessly and not giving me a chance to catch my breath. This is also a classic sign of transition—thinking that you can’t do it anymore. Unfortunately neither mom or I remembered that either. Around 2pm I asked for an epidural. I felt bad but I wanted one so badly! Nathan and mom talked me through a few more contractions, wanting to me to be SURE I wanted an epidural. Mom wrote, “Hard and frequent contractions. Asking for med. We encouraged her to hold off.” Eventually we called the nurses, who called the anesthesiologist. Christy stood at the side of the bed and I had to sit on the edge, bend over, and hold onto her. And stay still. Stay still? Hello! I’m having CONTRACTIONS HERE!!! Lol. Mom said this was the hardest thing for her to watch. Not the needle or the actual epidural or anything but the pain I was in sitting on the side of that bed. She wrote, “2:40 pm. Dr. Jones puts in epidural. Extremely painful but nurse Christy was so quiet and soft spoken—left side. Nathan had to leave the room because he just couldn’t watch but they let Mom stand on the other side of the room and watch. Nathan also told me later that he was about ready to cry before I got the epidural because it was hard for him to see me hurting. Both were glad that I got it, even though they were my staunchest supporters of doing it naturally. That helps me not feel bad about getting the epidural—I refuse to think of it as failing. If I hadn’t been induced and had those pitocin contractions I believe I could’ve done it. Hopefully next time!

As soon as the epidural was over they checked me and I was dilated to an eight. An EIGHT!!! Um, throwing up, giving up, TRANSITION! Wow did we ever miss that cue. I wish I would’ve gotten checked BEFORE the epidural because I probably wouldn’t have gotten it. I thought I was at a FOUR and had HOURS left to go. That’s ok though. Hindsight is 20/20. And because I got it so late in the game it didn’t seem to have any effect on Shane, or at least not much of one. I also got it so late that it didn’t completely take the pain away. Mom wrote, “2:45 pm. Internal exam—8 cm! 100% effaced, 0 station. Epidural will take about 15 more min to kick in. The nurse is sooooo good. Panting to not push.” And later, at 3:00 pm, “Foley catheter inserted.” At 3:08 pm she said, “9 cm. Cervix thicker on one side, so moved her a little to right side. Not much pain but lots of pressure. Panting through contractions.”

Nathan and Mom said I slept between contractions after that, but I don’t remember it as sleeping. It was very strange. I could hear people, but I was out. My body was resting, finally. I think right after I got the epidural I started feeling pushy but I had told the nurses I wanted to breathe down for a while instead of pushing so they let me be. Nathan was next to me on the left and mom was on my right. Nathan reminded me to pretend like I was blowing out a candle as I panted. I guess he was actually paying attention to the things I was telling him might help me! It’s all so foggy but I remember holding my fingers in front of my mouth to “blow out the candle”. At 3:55 pm, “Sleeping between contractions. A lot of pressure. Feels urge to push but panting through contractions.” At 4 pm, “Internal exam. Head not quite far enough down to push yet. 10 cm. Switched her over to her left side. ‘Laboring down.’”

"Sleeping" throught contractions.

4:20 pm. “Tried a few pushes, but head not down yet.” 4:45 pm. “A few more practice pushes were good. Baby’s head came down but first babies go up and down. Put legs in stirrups and started pushing!”

Eventually the nurses came back and broke down the bed and put my legs into the stirrups so I could start pushing. I think Dr. H came in to check before I started but I really can’t remember. I know he wasn’t there the entire time. Mom helped hold my right leg and the nurse held my left. Nathan stood by my head and whispered encouragement. Mom encouraged me as well, but left most of it up to Nathan. He did perfectly, not yelling, just speaking softly and stroking my hair. He was SO great. At 5:30, “Still pushing. Baby’s head in sight and staying down pretty well.

Pushing was hard. I wanted to be more upright so that I could curl over myself but the nurses wouldn’t let me sit up too far. They brought a mirror so I could watch and I couldn’t believe how much hair I saw! In between pushes Mom would give me ice and Nathan held my hand. The epidural had finally kicked in and I couldn’t push that well so Dr. H called for the anesthesiologist to turn the epi off. He didn’t show up and Dr. H got kinda of mad at him—I remember him talking to the nurses about it. “At 6:10 pm my mom wrote, “Increased pitocin to 10 pump at 30. Doc Howell checked her through a few contractions. He wants Jones (anesthes) to turn off epi so she feels how to push better.” Dr. H was kind of in and out-he was the Dr. on call that night. I was SO tired by the end that I just didn’t think I could do it. I pushed for about 2 hours. As I pushed and was finally crowning the nurse put her hand on Shane’s head and told me to wait for Dr. H. WHAT?!?!?! I’ve been pushing for hours and now they wanted me to NOT PUSH!! This was the only time in my labor that I got upset or said a bad word. I said, “He’d better get the He!! In here NOW!

In my head I was thinking that I was going to push with my next contraction whether or not the Dr. was there, and the nurse could jolly well catch Shane herself! Finally there was a bustle of activity and Dr. H. arrived and asked if I was ready to meet my son. A few pushes later they put Shane up on my tummy! He was the most beautiful perfect thing I’d ever seen, all wet and slimy and bloody. Nathan cried and kissed me, and I just stared at him and felt my heart, like the Grinch’s, expand and expand and expand. Shane wasn’t swollen although I’d expected him to be after two hours of pushing. I got to cuddle him for a few minutes and then they took him to the warmer. He was born at 7:06 pm, 21 ½ inches and 8lbs 9 oz.

I’d wanted to just keep him on me, skin to skin, but mom told me later that they thought he had pooped near the end, and they needed to suction him out. They brought him back to me as soon as they were done, and put him on my chest and covered us both. It was wonderful, and I was glad to get that bonding time. He nursed after a while, and was extremely alert for two hours or so after he was born. I know a lot of women that say they didn’t bond with their baby for hours or days or even months, but Shane and I bonded instantly. He got his first bath, in our room with Nathan’s help, around 10 pm.
I couldn’t, and still can’t, believe the love I feel for Shane. It’s incredible. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew that I wouldn’t resent dirty diapers or nightly waking. I never knew that I could truly “count it all joy”. I never thought that I would be ready to have another one as I sat on ice in a hospital bed. I never knew that motherhood is my calling.

And I never dreamed that I’d want four kids!

*Thanks to my mom for keeping good records during labor and delivery!*

*Edited 7/4/11 to add:  I originally posted this on September 27th, 2010. I am however postdating it now to Shane's actual birthday, because I plan to print this blog in book form for him.

1 comment:

Dusty Penguin said...

So beautifully told. Such an incredible experience for me to be there--what a privilege! I'm so glad they let me stay:) I would never have pushed for it, but it was the deepest desire of my heart. But I only wanted my husband during my deliveries, so I sure would have understood. But there was nothing more beautiful than the moment he was born, and such a joy he is each and every day.