I love a good birth story. I define "good" as filled with all sorts of unnecessary and gross details. I seriously can't get enough of them so I am sharing mine. And this will double as a journal entry for me so it includes random stuff I want to remember. Now it 6 novels long. You might just want to skip it entirely
I should probably preface it with a back story. My only goal or hope for this labor was not to be induced. With J, I was so ready to be done that I jumped at the chance to be induced. Being stuck fasting for hours on end with and IV making every movement difficult was not something I wanted to repeat. I had a fantastic epidural experience though, I even told Husband it was a good thing they weren't offered it as a street drug or I would be a total junkie. Yet this medication-free birth idea intrigued me.
Not because of the risks and side effects associated with anesthesia, but more because I have a unhealthy relationship with pain. I just like to see how much I can take. Running a marathon, brazillian waxes, and various other endeavors all in the name of challenging my tolerance. And everyone is always talking about how much better the recovery is with "natural" childbirth (I prefer the term medication-free) and what a great experience it is, and how empowered they felt and various other benefits.
Plus, my sister did it so I wanted to see if I could do it too.
I told you, it's probably an unhealthy relationship with pain. I fully acknowledge it and my middle child neurosis.
I'm a part-time hippie and hang out with a fair amount of crunchy moms who have home births and use herbs and whatnot and they have lauded the Hypnobirthing method.
Seriously folks, it's a real thing. Although I think it should be retitled, "How to lie to yourself so effectively you don't feel pain." For a full 24 hours I believed labor was only painful because generations of misogynists had perpetuated the myth that painful was how labor was supposed to be. Husband and I turned it into a bit of a joke though because you are supposed to change your birth-related language. They are not contractions but "waves or surges." You don't go through any pushing but "breathe" your baby down and out. You visualize your uterine muscles as blue ribbons and guide the surges to be more productive.
I laugh and joke, but I do believe in the power of visualization and vocabulary (and I've seen it work in an athletic setting). I'm also a cheapskate and didn't fork over the dough to take the actual class. I know there are people who manage to do the hypnobirthing thing for real and allegedly have no pain but you have to really believe in it. And in a class I'd be the odd man out because I loved my epidural. People have very strong opinions when it comes to their childbirth options. Both sides of the pain medication debate tend to rip into each other and I just don't feel passionately either way. I think you can have have a beautiful birth experience with induction, c-section, a home birth, or in a car if you have the right mindset. There is only so much we can control in this process. So I was on the medication fence if you will. To all those who say that is practically a guarantee you will have an epidural, I give you the exceptions in my aunt, my sister, and now myself. It is possible to go in with an open mind and deliver without meds.
Meanwhile, I did practice the breathing exercises and meditation from the book a couple times, which happen to be identical to many things I've done in yoga. Then I kept telling the universe and anyone who asked that I was going to have a 2.5 hour, non-induced labor with the kiddo coming out like on a water slide. Tell the universe what you want and it responds.
Blah Blah Blah, get to the labor already!
Fine, I'll stop rambling. I've had very little consecutive hours of sleep though so it may be impossible. Here is a picture for making it this far.
|Yeah, you aren't even half way.|
So 39 weeks. I go into my appointment and my doc was going to strip my membranes. They need a euphemism for that. Breaking your water sounds much better than artificial rupturing of membranes so they need to come up with something equally good for stripping membranes. Anyways, I was at 4cm Tuesday morning and my doc said she was on call the next night and would it be ok if I came in Wednesday morning instead. Since Lil' Sis was flying in Tuesday evening, I figured we could do what was more convenient for the doc. And there was no guarantee it would start labor anyways.
So I go in at 8:30am on Wednesday, but my doc was called into a C-section so they asked if I could come back at 11:15am. I grumbled at having my time wasted, then went to Walmart to pick up some things we still needed for little brother. I had some discomfort and felt like I was waddling around a bit, but it went away.
I head back at 11am and my doc walks into the room saying, "Let's be clear, I never saw you today. The hospital is packed and I'm going to have to lie through my teeth. They can't know I stripped your membranes. They aren't even taking inductions because they are so full. So the story is you came in for your appointment yesterday and I stripped your membranes." I told her there was no lie in that. I came in for my appointment and she stripped my membranes. No need to qualify when the second half happened.
So she gets down to business and says I'm at 5cm already and asks how fast my first labor was. I go off telling her about my induction and she cuts me off and says she thinks she might have to send me to the hospital from the office. (P.S. I was afraid it would hurt, but it felt the same as getting checked, just a bit uncomfortable) I told her I would need to go home and get my bag first at the very least. She told me to wait in the room for a minute while she made a couple calls.
She came back and said the hospital was still packed. As in they didn't even have a triage room open. I told her I wasn't going to go to the hospital because I wasn't having contractions and I wasn't even uncomfortable. I could just picture the nurses asking me why I came in if I wasn't having any contractions.
The problem is I didn't remember what contractions felt like. I hadn't felt what everyone describes as contractions, Braxton-Hicks or true. When they hooked me up to the contraction monitor with J and told me when I was having contractions I went, "That's what contractions feel like? Yeah, I've had some then." It felt like a pinch or some gas. Then when they broke my water with J and I felt the big ones, it was a intense, deep ache that made my whole body shake.
I didn't feel either of those with M so I couldn't tell if I was having contractions or not. For the last month or so I would feel parts of my stomach tight but no ache. Sometimes an ache but no tightness. Very confusing. I decided certain discomforts were contractions even if they weren't how other people described them or what I had experienced previously. However, I hadn't really had any in the past week.
My doctor still wanted me to go to the hospital, but I declined with the promise I would go when I felt uncomfortable. She pleaded with me to stay close by because when it all went down, it was going to happen fast. (See? Tell the universe what you want!) Then she told me to go walk, walk, walk.
So I went home and didn't feel like walking so I finished packing my bag and took a nap. Meanwhile Husband wasn't answering his phone so I left a message every ten minutes telling him how lucky he was I wasn't in labor as he ignored my calls. The poor fellow was in a meeting and left his phone at his desk. Tsk, tsk tsk.
We decided he should just stay at work (with his phone close) and meet me at the hospital if I went into labor since it would take him less time than driving home. And he wouldn't have to use anymore time off than necessary.
Fast forward 16 hours with nothing really happening except gratitude that I didn't go to the hospital as instructed and sit in a bed starving.
|Woohoo! You are still reading!|
3:30am I wake up with some discomfort and think it might be a contraction and promptly fall back asleep.
3:45am I pop my head up with more discomfort, thinking I might actually be able to tell when this discomfort ends and maybe I should try timing it. Promptly fall back asleep.
4:00am Hey! This is uncomfortable! I think the last one was about 10 minutes ago. Or was it fifteen? Whatever, I'm awake now. So I get up and figure out what I'm going to wear to the hospital. I go to the bathroom and feel better so I figure it might have just been GI cramps. I have another discomfort and decide it truly is a contraction. Then I debate whether to wake up Husband or to wait a bit longer and let him sleep. Another trip to the bathroom and I feel better again.
4:15? 4:30? I wasn't really looking at a clock. OUCH! That hurt! I go to the bathroom again and see some bright red grossness so I decide we are heading to the hospital now. I tell Husband. He asks how much time we have and I confirm that he does have enough time to put on real shoes.
4:45 We are in the car and the contractions definitely hurt. Although we are laughingly calling them surges and I say that I am definitely feeling "discomfort" as they hypnobirthing book describes it.
5:00am We walk up to hospital and I start having shakes all over. Even my teeth are chattering.
There is no one at the desk so we are calling out Hello while we wander into an office where someone actually is. She asks what is going on and I smile and say, "Labor!" to mask my contempt. Really, why else would a pregnant women show up in the maternity ward at 5am? Then she asks for my ID and insurance card. I tell her we pre-registered and she says she still needs them and invites me to sit down while she confirms mundane details like my address and birthday.
Sitting down was not something I could do at that point. I am rather proud I didn't say anything demeaning to her and her utter lack of haste. Of course now I realize people in labor really aren't a big deal to her since it happens all day long, but I was rather irritated then.
We head into triage and they give me a gown. I change and tell John to tell them I'm ready. The nurses tell him they will be there in a minute. No one seemed to grasp the urgency of the situation because I wasn't moaning or yelling.
I tell Husband I feel like I'm going to puke. I barely make it to the bathroom and promptly do. The nurses started moving a bit faster then. Laying on the bed seemed like it would be the most awful thing in the world so I was standing and leaning on it while the obliging nurses danced around me, hooking up various monitors and things. I finally feel like I can get up on the bed and they check me. The nurse replies that I'm at an 8 and asks if I want an epidural.
I was rather excited to hear 8cm. My sister described labor like our marathon, like mile 24. To me, that's where you really dig deep and cry and push on to the end because you don't really have a choice and it would be a shame to lay down and die here so you keep ripping your muscles into motion to go a little bit further.
I felt like I was at mile 15, the point when you say "This hurts! I hate this! Just kill me now. This was a dumb idea!" but you still more in ya. So I told the nurses we were going to try it out medication free. I had figured I'd have to endure hours of feeling terrible but an 8 meant it was going to be a 2 hours max.
They were very encouraging as we walked down to the delivery room. Then I threw up a few more times and learned it is actually more pleasant to toss your cookies in an emesis bag than rush to a bathroom and aim. Plus, since throwing up is so miserable, it took my mind off the contractions for a minute or two each time.
Thankfully they never pushed me to lay down. I would look at that bed and it just seemed insurmountable and torturous. They put in my IV while I was standing and sort of walking in place humming to myself. No tune in particular, just random notes. Notes that got much louder when a contraction hit. The Librarian in my head was laughing at how absurd a pain reaction that was.
Then I told the nurse to unhook my IV because I had to go to the bathroom again. She said to let her check me first because sometimes it's not the bathroom, it's a baby. She checks and says I have a rim of cervix left. I didn't even use profanity when I asked her what that meant. Small victories. She also couldn't find my water and asked if it had broken when I was in the bathroom. I told her I didn't think it had but I was busying puking and may not have noticed.
|Almost to the end!|
In between contractions Husband and I would joke, "That one didn't even hurt, did it?" "Nah. Not painful at all!" See, self-deception can be fun. (It did hurt. A lot.) I was a little proud of myself that I hadn't even started crying yet. I felt a bunch of pressure and just wanted to poop or fart or something because I thought it would make it easier to handle the contractions. I wouldn't have described it as a desire to push though.
Then my doc gets there and BOOM!, flurry of activity. She is gowning up, they are counting instruments and then it's business time. She checks me and says I can push if I want to. I was delighted! I had figured it would be some time yet and the knowledge that I wouldn't have to keep feeling all those contractions was liberating.
She broke my water (apparently M was so far down the nurse couldn't tell). My doc gave me some pushing instructions I didn't understand the first time since I was mid-contraction, but the next one we did three, ten count pushes. My sister described it as pooping out a fire ball. My friends had said there was definitely burning. To me it felt like the burn from stretching in the splits too far in yoga and my instinct said to ease up but I pushed through it anyways. Then my doc told me the next contraction I would have a baby. I had a total zen moment. It was super quiet in the room. I was mercifully free from pain for a bit and had my eyes closed. It felt like it lasted a long time and I apologized because we were all sort of waiting and no contractions were coming. I was able to fully relax and prep. Then the next contraction came and I pushed like crazy for that 10 seconds and they told me to breathe and I yelled "I can't!" because I felt like if I stopped pushing I wouldn't be able to start again. But then I took a quick breathe and realized I could push some more. By the third count of 10 his head was out and I remember thinking (or saying. who knows?) just pull the rest of him out all ready! Then he was out and they had Husband cut the cord. He was born at 6:04am, about an hour after we entered the hospital. So this giant story all happened in about as much time as it took you to read it.
With J, they automatically put her right on my chest and cleaned her up there so I thought that was standard practice, but I had to tell them to bring him to me. J also came out staring at the world and taking it all in. M came out with an old man grumpy squinty face. The doctor said he looked like he'd have red hair. Here's hoping even though now it just looks blonde.
He is truly a little miracle and we are so happy he was able to come quickly and on his own.