Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Here Comes Baby Boy! - The Birth Story

Almost 2 months after my baby boy was born, I'm finally writing his birth story. And now scrambling to find my birth notes that my doula gave me... (in reality, I'm calling my husband to find them for me cause I have a baby sleeping on my chest, in the Moby Wrap (which I will write about in more detail later).

Found it!

So if you are only interested in the general picture of my birth, read the short version, which I have here first. If, however, you are interested in the details and specifics, read my novel (aka, the long version), which follows the short version. :)



Short version:
March 14, my due date, I woke up at 4:00am to find my water had broken. 4:30ish I felt my first contraction. I labored at our apartment until 9:00am and arrived at the hospital around 9:50. (Only a 15 minute drive, but it took a while to get down the stairs and out to the car). The nurses were shocked to find I was already completely dilated, and after forcing my feet into stirrups and repeatedly trying (and failing) to get an IV into me, my son was born at 10:31am. The nurses, having forgotten that I had not received an epidural, jabbed me in the leg with a needle to give me pitocin (without my permission), and my doctor then informed me that she was stitching me up from the episiotomy she'd given me (again without my permission and without me even knowing what she was doing). Then another nurse dumped cold water all over me "down there" - to which I shouted "ahh" to. (She then asked, "what?!" to which I told her it was cold and she then said she'd forgotten I hadn't had an epidural). My boy crawled to the breast and began nursing on his own within the hour. Because my husband was deployed, my mom flew out and arrived around 6:00pm.

Read on for the long version...



Long version:

It begins...
On March 14, my due date, around 4:00am I woke up to go to the bathroom (after having gone to bed at 1:00am because I stayed up crocheting a baby bootie). Upon standing, I felt like I needed to rush to the bathroom or I would leak something all over the carpet. I remember thinking I did not want to clean that up later. I'm sure you all really want to know (*sarcasm*), but on my pad was a light pinkish discharge. I was very confused by it and promptly called my doula. She said it sounded like my water my have broken and recommended I try to go back to sleep as I hadn't yet felt any contractions. Since most first time moms are in labor for an average of 8-12 hours and the first stage alone can average 7 hours, she told me its generally helpful to distract yourself for the first few hours by sleeping if possible, watching a movie, cooking, etc.

So, I called my mom to let her know I was most likely going into labor (as she was going to fly out once I was in labor to try and make it for the birth. We had calculated that if my labor was the average length of about 10 hours, then if she got on a flight right away, she might make it right before he was born). I then went back to bed and laid down when I felt my first contraction. I hadn't been sure what it would feel like, as I think I only felt a couple in the previous weeks and even then I wasn't certain. This was a bit clearer, but not yet painful or even very uncomfortable. The next "birth wave" (contraction) was about 10 minutes later, and this continued for about an hour and then suddenly they were only 5 or 6 minutes apart. Which shocked me. I remember learning that a lot of doctors want you to go to the hospital when your contractions are 5 minutes apart, but that it usually takes a few hours for them to get that close together. I still planned to stay at my apartment for as long as possible - more comfortable and research shows that it helps the labor progress more naturally and smoothly because you don't feel the pressure and the quick pace of the hospital.

Around 6:00am I vacuumed the apartment, which I hadn't done for over a week. I didn't want baby coming home to a ton of dog hair. The waves/contractions weren't too uncomfortable at this point, but after vacuuming, I felt nauseous and vomited. I was glad I hadn't eaten anything yet. I promptly texted my doula and asked her to come over to help me with the rest of the labor. We'd agreed she wouldn't come until I wanted her there, and I felt like I was progressing rather quickly. Having nothing to compare it to, I couldn't be sure if I was progressing fast or not, but it was moving faster than I had anticipated. My mom was in labor for 12 hours with me, so that's the kind of labor I was expecting. Hers was mostly a natural labor and birth as well.

Karrie, my doula, arrived close to 7:00am - I had already walked both of the dogs at that point, realizing I probably would not be capable further into the labor. (*duh*) She called my mom as coherent speech was getting a bit difficult for me, and talked about when she would fly out. I remember hearing her lowering her volume and telling my mom that she probably would not make it in time. So my mom decided to leave work then and get on the first flight she could (long story short, she ran through the airport and made it moments before they closed the gates).

I spent a little while leaning on my birthing ball, which made it much easier. I still wasn't in much pain. I didn''t like that word and didn't want to associate with my labor in birth as thinking of pain often causes fear which then causes tension and then pain. (Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle). But even looking back, it wasn't painful til close to the end.

While I labored in the living room, I vaguely remember my husband emailing me. I was able to email him back early on. But it got more difficult. I recall repeatedly emailing him that he needed to call me as emailing was getting difficult for me. (Later, when he did call, I learned that he hadn't gotten most of my emails). He was in Afghanistan at the time, with the Marine Corps. And I was trying to keep him updated so he'd know when we were going to the hospital so that he could get on a video call to "be there" for the birth.

Around 8:00 I was eating some Knox Blox (Jello cubes) I'd made a couple days before and at 8:30 Karrie called my doctor to let her know that my waves were 4 minutes apart and that we would be going to the hospital soon. Around this time I moved to the bathroom to sit on the toilet (backwards, with my head leaning against our over-the-toilet storage shelf).

At some point, I vomited a second time. This time, it was red from the jello. (Lovely, right?) I think Karrie was either taking things out to the car or walking my dogs.

Throughout the whole labor, Karrie had HypnoBabies tracks playing, which was very helpful to me. I had listened to them for the previous 5 weeks or so, almost every day. She also helped coach me, instructing me to relax, loosen my shoulders, and breathe. I didn't realize how tense I was until she would tell me to relax.
 
Things progress...
While in the bathroom, I eventually moved to the floor. At this point I remember starting to be extremely uncomfortable. I suppose some people would call it pain... lol. I still have aversions to that word. But I know I was laying down and instead of relaxing and humming/moaning through each wave, I began tensing and almost whimpering. Karrie kept instructing me to relax and making the appropriate sound for me to imitate. (I also remember thinking at one point, "shut up! It hurts! Let me whine and whimper!" lol. Sorry, Karrie!) I also remember having moments where I thought I might cave when I got to the hospital if the contractions got any worse, and ask for pain medication. But that, I think was the worst it got. And anyway, I didn't have any time to get narcotics or an epidural... as you will soon see.

I came out to the kitchen to prepare to leave, and leaning against the counter, I told Karrie, "I don't thi-ink we're going to ma-ake it to the ho-o-o-ospital." :P At that point, it felt like a huge pressure inside. A pulsating feeling on my cervix, I suppose. I thought he was just going to fall out! I had a tremendous urge to push (hadn't known what that would be like, and it's difficult to explain. I literally just felt like I had to push something out). After a couple minutes of trying to get out the door but stopping cause it hurt, I contemplated just going to the bathtub and giving birth in there. Karrie told me we needed to hurry up if I wanted to make it to the hospital.

9:00am we started the long process of getting to the car.  I stopped numerous times on the outside hall and staircase for each contraction. Felt like I had to walk with my legs squished together to keep the baby in (probably entirely unnecessary). The car ride was so uncomfortable. I was laying back as far as possible and on my side. Every bump and turn was almost excruciating. And Karrie was instructing me to do a different style of breathing, to help me not to push. It was a 15 minute drive, and I felt like I could've given birth in the car had I started pushing.

At the hospital...
She dropped me off at the lobby around 9:50, and when I walked in, the staff at the desk proceeded to ask me a number of questions and tried to have me sign papers. One older woman finally realized how far along I was (as I was leaning on the counter and moaning quite loudly, lol). She promptly had me sit down in a wheelchair (I remember not wanting to sit down, that seemed like it would be very uncomfortable!). I was wheeled up to the Labor and Delivery ward, straight into a delivery room. The nurse in there instructed me to undress and put on the gown and began talking about the procedure for getting an epidural. I was pretty much incapable of speech at this point, but in my head was thinking "No!" And not because I didn't want the epidural (though I didn't!) but because I knew there wasn't time. I heard Karrie ask if it was fine for me to stay in my clothes and just take off my bottoms, and then suggested that they "check me" before doing anything else.

I scrambled onto the bed and the checked my cervical dilation. The nurse seemed so shocked, and said "She's complete!" And then madness ensued. It seemed 20 people rushed into the room, wheeling things in and running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Though I can look back now and think fondly on the process as a whole, it was not traumatic in the least, I was perturbed when two nurses began man-handling me. Forcing my legs open and into stirrups - into a position I vowed I would not give birth in (as it is deemed the worst position, making labor take longer and causing more pain and the baby to go into distress). Nurses were also trying to get an IV into me - I just kept getting stuck with needles over and over. After the birth I realized they'd tried the backs of both hands, both inner elbows, and one foot and failed all attempts. (I've always had trouble with finding veins for IVs and donating blood).

I completely forgot about this until I received the photos from the photographer. I know I only had the oxygen mask on for a few moments.
I began pushing and groaning and shouting very loudly and remember nurses telling me to push silently. Ha! I ignored them for a while until they got very snippy about it, then did it there way. I preferred my way, in hindsight.

What seemed like moments before my boy came into the world, the doctor and my photographer came in. My doctor told me that the baby was distressing and kept telling me to push harder. After a few minutes of this, I heard her instruct a nurse to bring her the vacuum. At this I think I said the only words I'd said the whole time, "No!" She then told me that I must push harder if I didn't want that used.


It's a boy!...
My boy was born shortly thereafter, at 10:31am. His cord was clamped and cut immediately - which isn't what I'd hoped for, but I am okay with it because it was wrapped around his neck. He was placed on my chest and two nurses vigorously rubbed him with towels. I was half-sobbing and saying over and over, "I got it! I got it!" Trying to indicate to them that I would rub him. They didn't get it (most likely because I was incoherent as I later saw on a video my doula took. haha). He had a bowel movement upon entering the world and then a second one right after they removed the towel they'd laid him on on me. Haha. Yay! My boy pooped on me! He was on my chest for almost 2 hours, and crawled to the breast and began nursing on his own within the first hour.





What followed his arrival, I was (and still am a little) upset about. All the moments leading up to his birth was in line with what I wanted - for the most part. After he was born, not so much. My doctor made a comment about stitching up my episiotomy... What?! Something I specifically didn't want - unless absolutely necessary, and if it was deemed necessary, I wanted to know before it happened. I later found out that she needed to do the episiotomy to "make room for the baby" (which is  what she said in passing while I was pushing, according to my doula).

A nurse also stabbed me in the leg with a needle, giving me pitocin without asking or notifying me. And this was after the placenta had been delivered. After my doctor was finished with her work down below, another nurse poured what seemed like freezing cold water on me. At which I shouted out - I think louder than even when I was pushing and laboring. She looked surprised and asked, "What??" I told her, "It was cold!" And she then looked stunned and said she'd forgotten I hadn't had an epidural. Looking back, I find it somewhat amusing that everyone kept forgetting I hadn't had an epidural. Karrie later told me that a nurse said to her they didn't know what to do with someone that didn't get an epidural! I was injected with pitocin (again!) in the other leg minutes later. I still don't know why I was given it twice.

In conclusion...
Though there are things I was unhappy about, overall I think it was a wonderful experience. I had a completely natural birth, like I wanted. I am still amazed by how quick it was. From my first contraction at 4:30am, I was in labor only 6 hours. And I spent only about 20 minutes of that time at the hospital!

Our little man weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and measured 20.5 inches. He's been doing very well - had regained his birth weight by day 4 and at 1 month weighed 12 pounds! At his 1 month check-up, he was in the 90th percentile for weight and 98th percentile for length! (Meaning he was bigger than 90% of all babies!) He's my little chunky monkey! :D But I was also a big baby. Under 7 pounds when I was born, I doubled in weight by 2 months - my parents called me the "Michelin Tire Baby."



Though the contractions toward the end were uncomfortable, and the pushing was also kind of painful... it was manageable. I think more women should try for natural births. I am not traumatized by the experience in the least, which I am quite pleased about. The recovery was worse than the birth (considering the birth was 6 hours and I was uncomfortable and in pain, recovering, for 2 weeks). Generally, second births proceed more quickly than firsts, so I am interested to see if I'll have a "precipitous birth" (under 3 hours) when we have another baby. But I know that for any future births, I will do much the same way. Labor at home for most of the time, no narcotics or epidural, no IV or pitocin...

I am so glad I had a doula. Karrie was amazing. If you'd like you can read my full review of her on Yelp or DoulaMatch - I'm Laura Russell, by the way. I originally only got a doula because my husband wouldn't be there for the birth because he was deployed. But during labor, I realized I would've wanted her even had he been there. Because despite all of the research I'd done, I felt kind of clueless during the process. Sure, my body knew what it was doing, but she was invaluable. Helping me relax, making me drink water... she could tell how fast I was progressing when I could not and knew when we needed to leave for the hospital. Had she not been there, my baby probably would've been born in the bathtub!

The wonderful doula, Karrie Nesbit!


The End!
Well... that's my baby's birth story! I tried to keep some of the more "gory" details out of it... haha.
Hopefully it will help some people know what to expect a little - or maybe help people not to expect too much. I think it helped that I didn't expect too much one way or the other. I didn't expect to be in a lot of pain, but I also didn't expect it to be completely pain free. I think it helped prevent me from becoming fearful and going into the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle but also helped prevent me from becoming disappointed in the experience when the intense discomfort did kick in.




Thank you!


Resources:
Birthing Naturally - Pain Theories
Birthing Naturally - Fast Labor
HypnoBirthing by Marie F. Mongan


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