Google+ The Duda Homestead: My Birth Story: Part 2 - The Birth!

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Birth Story: Part 2 - The Birth!

In case you missed it, check back to Part 1 to read about how we assembled our birth team. I can't stress how important it is to be surrounded by people you trust when natural birth is your goal. Our doula wrote us a wonderful birth story detailing times and events, but that is going to stay in our private album. This is my story as I recall it:

Our Doula brought me a rose at the beginning of labor, which was in full bloom by the birth!
 When I was past 41 weeks, I looked back at the calendar and my trusty iPeriod app and thought that maybe my due date was actually a week off. I planned to bring this up with my midwives at the next appointment when I knew they may begin talking induction. They "let" you go to 42 weeks as long as everything looks good and baby is healthy, but I was getting close to that cut off date. And as long as baby was doing well, I wanted to let things begin on their own if I could help it. At our next appointment, the midwife I was seeing that day actually brought up the possibility of my due date being off before I mentioned anything. This was a big relief! Because I have a 35 day cycle instead of the usual 28, she said it could throw off the due date by standard calculations. My babies will probably just need to hang out a little longer :)

So we had to drive out to the midwife office (about an hour away) for NST's a few times. At 41 weeks and 5 days, I had a scheduled appointment for an NST that evening. That morning, I was chatting with our doula, Donna, and letting her know I felt something now and then, but nothing strong or regular. I told her I was going to go to some grocery shopping to stock up before baby arrived. When I was getting back in my car after shopping, I thought I felt something and then a little "trickle"...omg! Did my water just break?! So I called Donna back and told her. She said I should call the midwives and let them know and that they could check to see if it was amniotic fluid when I went in for my appointment.

Now, water breaking may be an exciting sign, but I was also a bit nervous. Unlike Hollywood would like us to believe, your water isn't meant to break until the baby is on its way out or even after. Water breaking before real contractions begin is called PROM, or premature rupture of the membranes. Most OB/GYN's will want you to come in right away for monitoring and probably induce you because baby has to be delivered now! Unless you have signs of infection...not true. My midwife told me she would check when I came in later that day, no rush. Just in case, we took our bags with us. When I went in, she checked my fluid and while there was something "leaking," it wasn't amniotic fluid. So onto the NST I went. It picked up some regular contractions (about 5min apart) but they were fairly weak. I would describe them as a light menstrual cramp, sometimes I hardly felt anything at all.

This is where things blend together...these may have been separate NST's but to shorten a long story a bit, this is how I'll tell it. The midwife wasn't loving the lack of variations in the last NST I took, so she wanted me to stay on it a bit longer and we had to go to the hospital because the midwife office was closing. So over to the hospital we went and I was hooked up to the monitor there (when the baby moves and it doesn't pick up the heart beat anymore is SCARY when they don't tell you that could happen, btw!). Our midwife came in later because I was having more regular and somewhat more painful contractions, so this seemed like the real deal. She checked me and I was only about 50% effaced but at 4cm and she said she would consider me to be in early labor! She wanted us to stay in the area for the night, so we went to Nick's cousin's house nearby and stayed in their guest room (while I was sleeping on a waterproof sheet from the hospital so I didn't ruin their mattress if my water really broke - You're welcome :-P).

I felt contractions through the night, but again nothing strong and I was able to get lots of sleep. The next day, we took a LONG walk around their town to see if it would keep things going since the contractions seemed to have stopped. I went in for another NST that afternoon and everything looked fine, but no news as far as contractions went. So we went home later that day (41 weeks, 6 days). I felt contractions again that evening, but far apart and not very strong. So we watched a movie and then went to bed. I woke up a few times throughout the night from contractions but got a good amount of rest.

At 5am, I decided I was awake and needed to get up. I got myself some breakfast, I believe yogurt and cereal, and sat on my exercise ball watching TV. Contractions were much stronger but still no big deal pain-wise. There would be a giant full moon that night, and I'd joked for weeks that that's what my body was waiting for. Then, the next contraction started and I felt a pop and the beginning of a gush. I waddled quickly to the bathroom (walking by the bedroom door and telling Nick my water broke). Luckily I was wearing a pad and made it to the clean up all over the house! I did notice though, that the fluid was quite brown and knew that meant meconium was in it. For some reason this was one thing I had not read up on so I was worried. I called our doula and told her and she did her best to reassure me that it may not be meconium (I even texted her a picture...hopefully she deleted that by now). She didn't want me to panic so she sweetly stayed optimistic and said it didn't look dark enough, but to call the midwife and let them know.

Nick called the midwife office for me and because they knew I was already at 4cm (you have to be 4cm to be admitted), it was my choice if I wanted to labor more at home or come in right away. Because of the chance of meconium and being an hour away, I decided I wanted to get in now. Nick was getting our bags in the car (again) and I had the first doozy since my water broke. The amniotic sac cushions the baby's head a bit as it is pushing on your cervix, causing dilation. Without that cushion, it can get more painful (and also cause uneven effacement...yay! Although I also hear your water breaking later in labor is a huge relief of pressure). And the water kept on coming. It felt like I was constantly peeing my pants. Not fun. During that first contraction, I was kneeling on the bench at our dining room table and Nick came back in and I scared the $%#@ out of him, saying, "I don't know if I can do this." He squeezed my hips to help with the pain (hip squeezes are the BEST!) and reassured me that I could do this.

I'm SO glad we decided to get to the hospital earlier because the contractions in the car weren't bad at all...this was the one thing I was worried about being so far away. (Normally, if you want a natural birth at a hospital, it is suggested that you labor as long as possible at home. This helps prevent doctors from getting impatient. "Oh it's too late to give me an epidural? oopsy!"). When we got to the hospital, we went and checked in and got put into a triage room. Since I wasn't in "active labor" yet and contractions weren't horribly painful, the triage room was fine with me. If I had been further along, it would have sucked because they are tiny and there isn't much room for movement. Contractions were getting more painful, and our doula walked in the room, bringing with her a huge wave of relief. My husband is awesome, but we both loved having someone so experienced with a familiar face there.

I can't recall exactly what happened between the triage and labor & delivery rooms. It was in my "plan" to go to the ABC (Alternative Birthing Center) but I believe because I wasn't in active labor yet, we went to a regular L&D room. Shorty after, my mom arrived and it was a comfort just to have her in the room. I didn't feel a lot of pressure from our midwife, but did know that she wanted me to deliver within the 18 hour window before we risked the baby aspirating meconium. Our midwife exhausted natural options to move labor along. She had me on a breast pump. After that didn't seem to be working, she had my doula run to Whole Foods to pick up black & blue cohosh (and lunch for my hubby). While she was gone, I got in the shower and the heat was wonderful relief. I was doing squats in the shower to try to help move baby down. When our doula got back, I took cohosh every 15 minutes or so, and I do think contractions started picking up but they still weren't very close together. So here is where my totally "unmedicated" birth ended. I was put on an IV with a drip of Pitocin. It was something I agreed to with some resistance because I was worried about the baby (for good reason).

It can't be proven, because every birth experience is so different, but supposedly Pitocin makes contractions much more painful, and many times lead to an epidural and further intervention. I'm very happy and proud to say this was not the case with me. I can't cite it, but I have read that only 2% of women who are put on Pitocin end up delivering without an epidural. It makes me feel like a rock star, so let's go with it.

My husband and doula were wonderful in helping me work through the contractions which were growing stronger and closer together. Hip squeezes were my favorite and I stayed wrapped in a blanket because I was so cold, and I think it helped make me feel safe. It was my cocoon. Time blended together and I ignored the clock most of the time (which is a very good idea ladies!). I spent a lot of time on an egg shaped birth ball. At one point, which I remember clearly, I was on a birthing stool (like a toilet seat) rocking through each contraction, putting pressure on my tail bone. (That pressure was awesome during contractions but my tail bone was SORE for a few days after the birth). I was falling asleep in between the peaks of what was apparently 30 minutes of back-to-back contractions while my Pitocin was adjusted. I can't really tell you what I thought about or did, but I just rocked and that rhythm and pressure helped me relax.

At some point while I was on the birth ball, eyes closed working through contractions, my husband quietly told me that our midwife was knitting behind me. This scene still brings a tear to my eye. Lights dim, faux candle flickering. I open my eyes and see my husband in front of me and our doula next to me. I turn my head to look at our midwife and see her knitting while my mom is behind her crocheting an afghan for my closest cousin's wedding gift. This is one of my clearest memories and an image I will never forget. I remember thinking, "This is how it should be."

I believe it was after this that we found the coping mechanism I'd use the rest of the labor. Low "ooo"s through contractions. Not yelling or screaming, but low controlled moans. I am a rather reserved person and this was the last thing I thought I'd do. My husband and doula both helped me find the right "voice" some time after I got out of that 30 minute trance. My midwife suggested changing positions so I got up and moved around. At some point I ended up on the bed. She checked my progress and said I was 10cm, but that there was a cervical lip, and she wanted to see if she could get baby's head past the lip. So she asked me to push while she did this. WORST. PAIN. EVER. It was definitely the most uncomfortable part of the entire thing. But like everything else, this too shall pass, and I literally pushed through it.

I was asked to begin pushing before I really had the urge, but again we were starting to get on a bit of a time constraint (that darn meconium!). So I pushed. I couldn't tell if I was accomplishing anything, but my midwife at least made me think that I was. Time went by and baby moved down. My midwife tactfully threatened needing to call the OB for a vacuum extraction just as I was losing steam. I got a second wind and pushed, which by now I definitely had the natural urge to do and it was SUCH a relief to be able to be doing something through each contraction. I got in 3 good pushes through most of them.

Now baby was close, but I needed to get his head past my pelvic bone. I keep pushing and again there was a point where things were a bit stuck and my midwife said if the baby weren't born soon, that she may just have to cut an episiotomy and "get this baby out." The midwife practice only had a 2% episiotomy rate and other than a C-section, this was something I was pretty afraid of. It was the one thing about birth that would get me light headed during my pregnancy. So I pushed and our wonderful doula basically taught me how to push baby out. Our midwife was great about applying oil and pressure to help me not tear (as much). She, my husband, doula, and nurse were all great cheerleaders as baby crowned.

At some point near delivery, baby's heart rate dipped and I was put on Oxygen. I was kind of in my own little world then and I knew I was on it but no one let me know why. Which was a good thing, and baby's heart rate went right back up, but my poor hubby was terrified all on his own in that moment. Then, with my husband holding one leg, and our doula holding the other (both taking turns with the nurse I believe) and after about 2.5 hours of pushing, I pushed and out came baby's head! One more push and out came baby's body! I didn't feel the anticipated "ring of fire." I felt some pain but it wasn't bad at all compared to the contractions I'd been enduring. In fact, the first thing I said after the birth was, "That wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be."

Now this is something that still bothers me, but it is in the past and we have a beautiful healthy baby: Because of the meconium, 18 hours is said to be the amount of time that baby should be delivered in. From what I'm told, I was in the hospital for about 17 hours until delivery and my water had broken almost 2 hours before that. So we cut it close. Instead of letting the cord stop pulsing, it had to be cut right away and baby was taken to the warmer (next to me) to be suctioned. That hospital apparently didn't have the portable warmers that could have allowed the cord to stay in tact. I am happy with the birth and truly believe that I would have ended up fighting a C-section anywhere else, but I feel a bit robbed that I didn't get that moment of baby on my chest right after birth. I am extremely grateful, however, that I did get that moment shortly afterwards, and baby never needed to go to the NICU (which is common with babies born with meconium in the water).

While baby was being suctioned and checked (we declined the eye drops but did get the vitamin K shot because I pushed for so long), our doula leaned over and asked us, "What were you expecting again?" And I said,"A girl..." and the room filled with laughs as we were told "It's a boy!" Yup, the ultrasound tech was wrong! But I honestly was not that surprised. I had a feeling. With all of the girly newborn hats we had, something made me bring a plain green one, too. And up until that ultrasound, I could have sworn we were having a boy. Luckily, we had decided on a boy's name. I just felt it. But that's for another post...

My mom came by the bed and everyone praised how amazing I was. (Soak it in ladies, you are amazing!) Our little man scored an APGAR of 6 and then 9 while I delivered the placenta, and I was finally able to hold my little 7lb 6oz son. I say finally, but it was probably 5 minutes. It felt like forever! He seemed so small and so fragile. The L&D room was quite large, but in that moment my entire world was in that bed, alternating stares at my baby and husband. I just stared at my baby while I ignored being stitched up (2nd degree tearing) and my husband and I welcomed our little E into the world. So much love in that room. 

*Photos by Donna Rigert*

Posts to come in Pregnancy & Birth: The Best & Worst of Labor & Delivery, Post-partum & recovery tips, Fourth Trimester Reflection, It's A...BOY!?

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