Thursday, September 18, 2008

Birth Stories: Amelia ~ unmedicated hospital birth

When we found out we were expecting(on Mothers Day 2007), I was so excited and knew I was going to have a natural childbirth. I started going to prenatals with my OB but after doing a lot of reading and research, I was seriously doubting my chances of having a natural, physiological birth with her. After a lot of hemming and hawing, I decided to switch to a group of midwives. Like a lot of women, I felt really guilty about leaving my OB. But it's MY birth and I needed to do what felt right for me. I'm so glad I did it. I also decided that I was going to have a doula this time around. One of the mom’s on one of the local parenting boards was becoming a doula and she needed three births to receive her certification. I ended up being her first one. The pregnancy went smoothly. The midwives answered my millions of questions and were on board with all of my requests. They never once questioned my ability to birth whatever size baby I grew and I felt confident that I would not receive any unnecessary interventions. Their birth plan is very woman friendly. They won't even talk induction before 41 weeks(unless medically called for), they want you up and out of bed, moving around, in the tub, intermittent monitoring, no IV's, ok to eat and drink, etc etc. They gave me their entire list of stats from the year before on my first appointment. If only every provider would be so transparent!

On Sunday, the 20th of January, I was home by myself. My husband was at work and Olivia spent the night at her grandparents house and was still there. I slept in and enjoyed what I knew would be one of the last mornings I had to sleep in for a long time. Around 10:30 I remembered feeling a Braxton hicks contraction that burned a little at the end. I’d been having them since 19 weeks so I was familiar with how they normally felt. I decided to just go about my business and didn’t really think this would be “it”. I ate breakfast, vacuumed, picked up, and thought, “wow the nesting is finally kicking in!” All the while I kept getting slightly uncomfortable contractions about 15 minutes apart. By about noon, they were 10 minutes apart and were definitely demanding my attention during them. Still, I wasn’t sure if I was in labor. I felt so great in between them that I thought I had been exaggerating the pain of each one afterwards. I called Ben at work and told him he might want to come home early and to stay by his phone. I called Kristi my doula around 1:30pm and told her that I might possibly be in labor. When I had to stop talking when a contraction came, she said she knew it was labor. I, stubborn woman that I am, didn’t really believe it. So, she said she’d call again at about 3:30 to check on me. The contractions kept coming and getting closer together. I ate lunch, called my family to tell them that this may be it, but I’m not sure, and watched “The Hundred Greatest Songs of the 90’s” on VH1.When a contraction came I would just close my eyes, kneel on the couch with my arms on the back of it, and breathe through them. I really focused on keeping my face relaxed and surrendering to the contraction. I also tried to visualize a rose bud slowing opening up. I feel these really helped me to relax and make my labor very efficient. Around 2pm my mother in law dropped Olivia home. I told Diane that I “might” be in labor so to be available if we needed to drop Olivia back home. Liv was great for distracting me. I made her some lunch and we watched TV together. We took this pic :

Around 3pm Ben came home from work and the contractions were burning. I remember thinking, “Wow I forgot how much this hurts.” But at the same time, I was so excited. I knew I was going to get to labor and possibly birth in the tubs at the hospital so that’s what was helping me get through them. Of course, Ben was running around getting Olivia packed up to go to his parents house and packing stuff for the hospital. I just wanted him to stop. All his fluttering around was making me anxious and irritated. It sounds horrible, but it was as annoying as when you are in a room by yourself trying to sleep and there’s this one mosquito buzzing around. Kristi called me back at 3:30pm and we decided that she would come over. I told her to take her time because I was still thinking I was in early labor(yes this is a theme). Things got really intense while waiting for her. I remember sitting down at the bottom of the stairs telling Ben to stop packing, that we can get stuff later, and to get over here and freakin help me! Then Kristi arrived and I started crying a little. I was getting overwhelmed with all of the commotion and from dealing with the pain. I felt like some of the pressure was taken off of me by her being there. She totally took over and had the mothering touch that I really needed. She shut off the tv and just rubbed my back through contractions. She really helped me to get my focus back on me. She noticed that the contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and suggested we go to the hospital. I refused. I didn’t want to get there and have them send me home. I don’t know why I had this irrational thought since intellectually I knew my contractions were strong and getting closer together. I had planned to arrive at the hospital around 6-7 cm’s and then get in the tub. I thought at the time that I was no where near there. It was just going too smoothly and easily to be that far. Finally after a few more contractions, and Ben’s telling me that we went to the hospital with Olivia when the contractions were farther apart than this, that I agreed.

In the car, the contractions came very fast, about every two minutes. Oh how I wished we had a bigger and more comfortable car at the time. It was not fun. Ben dropped me off at the entrance and went to park the car. I barely waddled up to the registration worker. After what seemed like forever, Kristi and Ben met with me and we went to L&D. My husband had called them about an hour earlier to say we’d be there later on and I remember shouting to him to tell them to get us a room with a tub! Well when we got there, the not too pleasant person at the desk told us they were all full. Grrr. Then they said that one was empty and if we wanted to wait in the waiting room they’d clean it. Fine I said. I really wanted the tub. We waited about a half hour in that room. The contractions were coming fast and furious but I was handling them well. I even managed to pee in a cup for the nurse! Oh she was annoying though. I’ll refer to her from now on as Nurse Annoying. She kept asking me all these questions even during a contraction! Couldn’t she tell that they were coming every few minutes? Why did I not preregister? I should’ve just had a homebirth, but anyway. Eventually we got into the room. I remember glancing at the clock and noting that it was 6:08pm. My mother in law had showed up by this time too, video camera in hand.

When we got in the room, I found out that my favorite midwife was the midwife on call and I was so happy. She was the one I had wanted for my labor. She also had a student midwife with her and asked if she could participate. That was fine I said. I was actually hoping for a nursing student or an intern though. I wanted them to get a chance to witness an unhindered birth, hehe. So I changed into the clothes I had brought and I let Lydia check me. Getting on the bed was the last thing I had wanted to do but I really was curious as to how far along I was. She announced that I was complete(10 centimeters and 100%effaced) and zero station. Wow. Everyone in the room collectively said, WHAT?!, myself included. No way was I complete! I wasn’t ready to be that far along. Just the moment before I was joking about my blue smocked pj’s I brought to labor in. Where was the sweat and the shaking and panicking? As she finished the exam my water broke. Clear fluid. I barked out to someone to fill the tub! They all knew that I wouldn’t have time to get in it but they humored me anyway and started the water.

I got up right away because the bed was so uncomfortable. How do women labor in bed? It's so painful! The student midwife was still trying to find the heartbeat so I was standing up next to the side of the bed. It was so hard to stand still. All the while, Nurse Annoying was asking me questions. “What’s your social security number?”” How much do you weigh(yeah right I had stopped looking months ago, ha!)? “What are the first 100 digits of pi?” Ok well she didn’t ask that but she might as well have. Didn’t she know how far along I was? My mind couldn’t think about these things. I said, “How many more fucking questions are there?” Then I barked at the student, “Have you found the heartbeat yet?” Nope. I wasn’t worried about the baby, I just wanted to move! Typing this out I sound really mean, but really that was as bad as I got. Plus, Amelia is born about three minutes from here so I think I did pretty well.

All of the sudden I had the strangest feeling, like I had to take the biggest poop ever. Then I realized OH! It’s the baby! It’s all kind of fuzzy from here. I think I said something about she’s coming. People flutter around. The student midwife kneels next to/behind me and my midwife was kneeling in front of me. I’m paralyzed in place. I lurch forward a little to grab onto Ben’s shirt with both hands. I somehow had to presence of mind to realize that my mother in law was videotaping from behind me so I shouted at someone to put the sheet over me. Not that I think women need to be covered up during birth at all, I just knew this would be on video forever and I didn't feel like looking at my butt.It’s amazing that you can think of these things while a baby is being born. Anyway, I digress. Here's a pic of the position I gave birth in:

Anyway, I remember screaming so loud during the next contraction. It was very primal and felt really good to scream and not care how loud it was. It felt like a missle was barreling out of me. I wanted to stretch as tall as I possibly could to relieve the pressure and slow it down. Someone asked if I wanted to squat. Hell no, that would make it hurt more. Someone inches my feet a little farther apart since they were still close together.. I’m still clinging to Ben, my face in his shirt, leaning over. I couldn’t have moved if I’d wanted to. I mean I was literally cemented into place. The next contraction she was crowning. Holy crap it burned and I wanted to fly out of my body. Kristi told me to make low pushing noises and I said, "That’s if I were pushing. I’m NOT PUSHING!!" I think that’s why I screamed so much, because it was happening TO me and I couldn’t control it. Her head came out during the next contraction. Someone said she had so much hair you could braid it. Someone asked if I wanted to reach down and catch her. No! That would make it hurt worse and really, I couldn’t even move that much. I remember thinking momentarily how odd it felt to be standing up and having a head hanging out from between my legs. Then I felt the last contraction coming and I think I might have pushed a little, just to make it get over with faster. She slid right out. I instantly straightened up and proclaimed “I feel so much better!” Literally all the pain was gone in an instant. It’s amazing how you can go from such exquisite pain to ecstasy in two seconds. I felt such a rush! I totally did it! I felt like I could go run a marathon or climb a mountain if I wanted to. Wow, THIS is was the oxytocin high everyone was talking about! It’s kind of an indescribable feeling.

Then I realized, Oh the baby! Luckily, someone had caught her,lol. They gave her to me and I remember not being able to bring her all the way up, the cord was too short. So somehow I got onto the bed and I held her that way. She looked so small to me. She had tons of dark hair and was screaming a lot. After a few minutes, the midwife said the cord had stopped pulsing and asked if we wanted to clamp and cut it. Ben went ahead and cut it. We nursed at some point but I can’t remember how soon after the birth it was. The afterpains were horrible though. They felt almost as painful as the labor contractions. But they did their job and I my uterus clamped down nicely. My sweet girl was born at 6:28pm, exactly 20 minutes after we got into the room. She was 9lbs 8oz and 20 ½ inches long, with a 13.5 in head and a 15 inch chest. The nurses were shocked at how big her chest was but Olivia’s chest was larger than her head too. I had a U shaped tear that honestly, hurt like hell when they were stitching up. I made Kristi’s hand white from squeezing so hard. The lidocaine just wasn’t working and I kept asking for more. They said that it wasn’t numbing it well because the tears were very superficial. Once that was over though I felt better and it healed a lot quicker than my episiotomy with Liv. I finally got into the tub about an hour after the birth and it felt great. So that’s how my Millie came into the world, with a big rush and lots of love, on her own terms.

Getting ready to nurse

Diane and Millie

My doula Kristi. Muah!

Olivia meets her sister for the first time


Brian said...

Leesh! That was such a wonderful story. I'm actually trying to hold back a few tears because I'm in public! It's like watching "A Baby Story" without the bullshit, sugar-coated, fakeness of capitalist birth. Thank you so much for sharing!

Kara said...

Very amazing! And intense to read. I need to go drink a glass of wine now. : )

Your story is very inspirational! Congratulations on your beautiful girls.