Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Birth Story. Finally :) talk of gooey personal stuff, fyi

Minutes after birth
Well it's been 2 whole months since our baby girl was born.
Today in the bumbo
The first couple of weeks were terribly difficult. Just one of the hardest things to go through. She was whisked away from the hospital where I delivered her just a few hours before she turned a day old. She had ABO incompatibility and likely has hereditary spherocytosis. I don't think Wikipedia is the creme de la creme, but that's quick info if you are so inclined to look it up :)

~She was born at 41 weeks and 6 days, weighing 7 lbs and 9 oz. I hope that giving her those extra couple of weeks to cook helped her liver develop more, thereby helping her process the copious amounts of bilirubin caused by the ABO incompatibility and spherocytes. Immature livers are one reason newborns so often struggle with jaundice~

Here's my birth story, and I'm stickin' to it.

My due date came and went.

40 weeks I think
And my anxiety about being pushed toward an induction increased. On my due date, I was asked to go to a Non Stress Test and fluid check ultrasound. The results were fine, but my experience was NOT. Everyone at the hospital expected me to stay and be induced! Acted like I wouldn't even have a choice... IF things with the baby looked ok. IF if was ok with my docter. Debbie Downers, all. I didn't enjoy it. Thankfully John had gone with me to the appointment. We kept each other sane and our tempers in check. I don't have one, but that day, the medical community was making me mad. 

41 weeks
Another week passed. At my 41 week check up I asked the doctor to do a membrane strip/sweep. It really wasn't too bad. I was 2 cm and effaced a little. We told her our concerns about the hospital testing experience the week before. I went again for another round of tests. Everything still looked good. I wasn't contracting really. And the staff said NOTHING about the "I" word, as they were instructed by my doctor :)  A cool nurse told us that. This was a Wednesday. We asked to come back in on Monday to check progress, if I hadn't already had the baby, instead of waiting til 42 weeks on the dot. I would have wanted another membrane sweep at the next check up.  We went home and on with our lives. I started losing my mucus plug after the membrane sweep. YAY! I really thought it could start happening any time!  But it didn't! haha.. I mean.. I was having some random contractions, but nothing regular. And I was still losing my mucus plug. What a gross term. It should be something like.... jellygoo cork of life.

On Sunday I started having some pretty regular contractions! They weren't bad. They weren't close. But they were consistent. About 20 minutes apart. That night I went for a super long walk. It was finally time to have the baby, and  I knew for sure around 5 am when I woke up yet again from a contraction. I started having bloody show! I was so excited. Because we were planning on going for our check up but also because we had decided/resigned ourselves to getting things started artificially, by breaking my water. (It was hard to come to that decision--water breakage vs. pitocin. But I knew I wanted to maintain my mobility at all costs) I was 41 weeks and 5 days.  I went in that morning to get checked, and I was 4 cm and 90% effaced.  What a relief! My contractions were 10 minutes apart and painful. I was in early labor..almost active. early active labor I guess.  So the doc said just go take a walk and mosey to L&D when I wanted.  We went and grabbed a big breakfast from the cafeteria and walked out behind the hospital to a riverside dock with picnic tables. It was about 9 a.m. 

I was having to stop and breath during these contractions, but they were ok. We called our doula Laura, who was working at a restaurant. I am so so SO glad we got a doula, that we got Laura. Having her there to root for me and comfort me and help my self confidence was so wonderful.

When we checked in, we found out we got the deluxe birth suite, the only one with a bathtub. a big one at that. yessss. In thinking back on things, I wondered if I should have gone home until the contractions got really really tough. But had we done that, this wonderful room might not have been available. And I'm very grateful we had it. 

no sweat ;-)
Got settled in and our awesome doula later posted my short and sweet birth plan on the door.  Got a saline lock only. The nurse was happy about that b/c had I needed it later in labor, it would have been really hard to get one in. I didn't loathe the saline lock, but I wouldn't do it again just to make it easier on the staff. It was pretty uncomfortable. The contractions were coming about every 5 minutes by 10 or 11 am. And it was really pretty easy to labor through them. And I did. and walked the halls..and sat on the birth ball (which i ended up HATING)...and walked and swayed and labored..never got in bed except to be intermittently monitored..  And got checked around noon to find I was still just 5 cm. BOO. But I never had any pressure from the staff or my doc to augment labor in any way. Awesome. So I kept at it. I was monitored every hour for about 20 minutes. The baby was doing great. I snacked when I wanted and drank when and what I felt like.
Laura talking me through it
Hours passed and things started getting really tough around 7 cm, which was about 5 p.m. I got in the tub around then. Bliss.. 
What a wonderful presence for me

..well as blissful as contractions can be :) They actually slowed down in the tub.
I figured labor would get really fast at that point, around 7 cm, because it's supposed to go quickly through transition. But it did NOT. It was 5 pm and then 8pm and then 10pm and I was progressing SO slowly. I remember in the tub, the 2nd time, I was still wanting to joke around a little between contractions, but I wouldn't let myself. I wanted John and Laura to think I was really in transition!  If you think it, it will be...?  :) 
 It was after 10 p.m. and I was 8 cm  when I asked them to break my water.  I was so desperate to get things DONE with.  And there was a little meconium. Now add that to my worries. I was in so much pain by this point. I was sort of disappointed in my labor. It wasn't textbook like I thought it should be. I wasn't having the poised disposition that I had mentally tried to shape myself for. I was very vocal and sad at times. The funniest thing to me in retrospect is that I was really grrrring and low moaning a lot. Like singing. I had a couple moments where I thought it sounded pretty---wayy way in the back of my mind. Oh yeah and the horse lips sound! I heard it helped, haha and maybe it did. But that is a pretty funny hodgepodge of noises going on. Wish I'd videoed some of it.
I wanted it to be OVER, but it was so slow. It gets really hazy here. At some point after peeing or something, I ended up with no hospital gown on.. just my comfy nursing bra. I seriously lost almost all inhibitions, which I didn't think I'd do.  I labored on all fours and standing and everything but on my back. They really followed my birth plan to a T. Including keeping cervical checks to a minimum. I actually had to ask them to check.  I finally got to 9ish cm and had a puffy portion of cervix. The nurse had me lay on the bed and manually worked on it for a while. painful! but really at that point *everything* was pain. (But pain with a purpose, ra ra ra.--that's me being a cheerleader) Finally she fixed it! Yay the body mechanic. And I could push when I felt like it. Completely dilated at 1:50 a.m.
I was confused about the pushy feeling. It just felt awful, and I wasn't sure if that meant push. So I tried to push some. And the more I did, the more I HAD to. And that's when I got really grrrowly! It was such a powerful urge and it was like I couldn't stop to take a breath.. And no one coached me on pushing, except they did suggest that I lay flat on my side, which was weird to me. But I totally didn't care. So that's what I did and pushed with all my might, which my body was kind of forcing me to do.. And it was such a mental relief to be DOING something instead of just WAITING for something. I pushed for about 15 minutes. I suddenly felt like I was about to push 4 hemorrhoids out of my butt! Seriously, I envisioned 4. And something kind of "gave" and I said "Oh God what is that, hemorrhoids??" and the nurse freaked out and yelled to get the doctor. It was the baby's head and she was crowning! My doula put the mirror up so I could see. The nurse told me not to push I think, but I was like..oh no ma'am. I think I might have laughed at that. And I pushed and my doctor, who was just out in the hall, came right in and got the baby's head and I pushed again and out she came! 2:06 a.m. I got to see it too! How amazing.
fresh out the oven!
Because of the meconium, the respiratory crew was there. John cut the cord, what a champ. He was iffy about that prior to labor. I hardly noticed the placenta. I felt like a million dollars after she was born.
This is me being a million bucks :)

However, one of the first things I said was that I would NEVER do that again!  We would adopt instead.
In retrospect, I feel like my brain was driving my natural birth and not my heart. But I did it. I think it might have been beneficial to my progress if I had gotten an epidural around 7 or 8 cm. (But at the time I figured it would be over soon a not worth the trouble/time for a bag of fluids.) Maybe I was really too tense for my own good. Well, scratch that, I WAS. But i think the labor was all worth it to know how to push. And to be able to immediately stand up while they changed my bloody bedding. I made quite a mess. I had NO swelling and no tearing. What a blessing b/c  I walked and walked that week when Kassidy was in the hospital. And wouldn't have survived if I had to deal with tears or hemorrhoids (which were just a figment of my imagination) or stitches or even swelling. I did feel like I'd been hit by a mac truck or run a marathon. But I walked it off through the week. It was a good reminder of the awesome dramatic event I had just gone through, survived, conquered.
Looking at John, being amazed
I don't regret my natural birth experience at all, but I was kinda CRAZY for doing it :) :)  Immediately after, I felt like people were insane to even have babies. I felt like I wouldn't want to be a doula. I thought I'd never want to birth more kids. I mean, I seriously felt that way. John said it was so hard to watch me go through that and not be able to help. And help from him is what I wanted! I remember looking at him from the tub, giving him the biggest puppy dog eyes he'll probably ever see from me. I almost believed that he had some magic button that would make it all stop. I got to a point where I knew it was completely out of my control, with tears streaming down my face. It was a hard emotional realization that the physical process had to be finished, on its own schedule. I was at the mercy of my own body. It was so incredibly intense. And also so very empowering.

As the days and weeks passed, the rawness of childbirth faded in my mind. It is truly amazing to experience it naturally. And powerful and overwhelming at the end. But I would do it again. And I do encourage others to do it. I think Kassidy's birth was unusually long from 7 cm to the end, which was super rough.  But I felt like I was doing her and me a favor by going without drugs. It was important to me to give her an optimal start.  I think I did.
I finally see you!