Friday, April 2, 2010

Birth Stories: Gregory ~ homebirth

My husband, Dan, and I had been preparing for the birth of our first child since before he was conceived. After months of infertility, a miscarriage, and finally a little medical help, our little miracle was finally on his way. Growing up witnessing my mother give birth at home to each of my 4 sisters, I never imagined my own birth occurring in any other setting, barring medical necessity, of course. However, home birth is not common in Nebraska and midwives are hard to locate. I resigned myself to a hospital birth and began visiting the midwife clinic there for prenatal care. The hospital midwives were wonderful and very open to discussing our desires and concerns, all the while monitoring the healthy development of our baby. They were very nice and assured us that the kind of birth I wanted was achievable in the hospital setting, but because of my experiences and my conviction that birth is inherently safe, I couldn’t get comfortable with the idea and renewed my search for a home birth midwife. Honestly, the thought of unassisted birth did cross my mind – if all was well, I could just not go in to the hospital! But being my first baby, and considering that Dan was utterly terrified by the idea, it became clear that we had to find a midwife, or home birth was out. After searching for almost a year and a half, she finally came into our lives.

We prepared ourselves mentally and physically for the birth by attending Bradley method classes and reading as much as we could. It was a time of excitement, and each new book inspired us and reassured us. As the time drew near, I began to feel nervous that something would come in the way of my home birth. There were valid, though unlikely, medical issues that could arise, but the most disappointing to me would have been if I had gone more than two weeks past my due date. At this point, my midwife would insist on a hospital delivery. Also, I was hoping that my mother would be able to come from out of state to be with us for the birth, but she had purchased a plane ticket for my due date and could only spend about 10 days with us. These time constraints weighed heavily on my mind and I was sure I was going to go very overdue and not only would my mom have to leave before it happened, but I’d miss out on my home birth as well.

Little did I realize, prodromal labor began about 10 days before my due date. I was having episodes of regular contractions that were not painful, but I wasn’t sure whether they were different than the familiar Braxton-Hicks practice contractions. They seemed a little stronger, and it felt like they were, well, pulling on my cervix! They would continue for several hours but would always fade away when I went to bed, and they never distracted me from my routine activities. The day before my due date, my curiosity was getting the better of me and I asked my midwife to check me. I had been trying to feel around by myself and couldn’t find my cervix. It was right down in front, very mushy, 3cm dilated and 90% effaced, with a very bulgy water bag – much farther along than I thought – turned out I had been reaching right past it! Maybe I wouldn’t be going two weeks overdue after all??

We picked my mom up from the airport at about 11pm on my due date. I had been having the usual practice contractions that morning, and actually was passing what seemed to be my mucus plug, but there was no blood and the afternoon was quiet so we made plans to really start trying to get things going beginning the following day. Dan put the golf clubs in the car thinking the walking and swinging might help kick things into motion, and we also bought ingredients to do some baking, thinking it would be nice to do during early labor. We stayed up until about 1am chatting and catching up with my mom.

I awoke out of a deep sleep with a serious pain in my bladder area – this was not completely unusual, so I hauled myself out of bed and practically fell down the stairs as I groggily made my way to the bathroom. I peed, but that did not relieve the feeling of needing to go, although there was a considerable amount of bloody show. I sat for a while longer and eventually felt like I could get up. I thought something might be going on, so I did not go back to bed, but instead went to sit in the living room for a minute. It was 5am. Soon I felt like I needed to sit on the toilet again. After a couple rounds of this routine, I realized these were probably labor contractions. I got a paper, pen, and watch, and started writing down when they started and how long they were lasting. This was a little tricky since I kept needing to go and sit on the toilet with each one. In the beginning they were 4-5 minutes apart and about 30-45 seconds long, but by 6am they were 2-3 minutes apart lasting 90 seconds and longer, and getting pretty intense! I realized this was going pretty fast and decided it was time to let people in on what was happening.

I called my midwife and told her I thought she should come over - soon! I went into the guest room to wake my mom – I told her we were having the baby today and she said, “ok, sure honey.” Then she saw me have a contraction – I had to get up and lean over onto the bed and sway my hips. She said, “You better go wake Dan!” He bolted out of bed at the news and threw himself into the shower. When he was out, I got in and he and mom started getting things ready around the house. My midwife arrived while I was in the shower – before 6:30 I think – and wanted to check me. I was trying to wash my hair but had to get on hands and knees for contractions. I let her check me in between and she thought I was a good 6cm already.

I was starting to need to vocalize with each contraction. They were coming so fast I could barely finish my shower. I thought maybe I was getting close to transition. I was using visualizations of my cervix opening up – each contraction was pulling it up towards my ribs, over my baby’s head. It was yielding easily. I got out and did Child’s Pose on the bathroom floor for a bit, but soon went into the baby’s room and leaned over the exercise ball in front of the air conditioning vent – I was so hot! I was feeling pretty fine in between contractions, but there wasn’t much time. My midwife was having a hard time getting long enough to check my blood pressure! I was kinda shaky and felt a little nauseous. This was probably because the only thing in my stomach was a bit of blueberry juice I had drunk in that first hour in the living room. Mom found me a bucket, and Dan brought me some of the Labor-ade I had made the day before, which helped considerably. I never ended up needing the bucket! During contractions, I slipped into my own world – it was a completely separate space where I just felt my body do its work. It was not painful, just intense. I did not want anyone to touch me or say anything to me. I made very loud, low moans. It wasn’t long before the moans were turning into growly grunts – was this the urge to push? It sort of felt like it…

Dan kept coming in trying to ask me how to use the waterbed adapter on our kitchen sink to fill the pool in the dining room. We had done a practice run but I had been the one to set it up – oops! All I could say was, “I can’t think about that right now!” I guess he eventually figured it out because he came in and told me the water was ready for me. When I got in, my midwife checked and found that my dilation was already complete. My bag of waters was still intact, though very bulgy. She wanted to break it to make sure there wasn’t meconium. I hadn’t intended on doing any sort of interventions like that, but in the moment it seemed like it wouldn’t hurt since I was already fully dilated. The sensation that followed was crazy – so much pressure! But then I started to have really nice breaks in between contractions, which up to then I really had not had. I was able to put my hair into a ponytail. I could drink some more Labor-ade. I was feeling pretty great! When the contractions did come, that pushy, growly thing came over me. I decided to shift from leaning forward over the edge of the pool, to leaning back against the wall. Dan pulled up a chair and supported me under my arms, holding my hands. I sort of felt like things had been going so fast, now that they were slowed down I wanted to just hang out and enjoy it. It was still early! But it was time to push the baby out. I was not really mentally prepared for this yet, and during contractions I was starting to feel a very scary sensation that I would tear in the *wrong* direction. I was not really afraid of a normal perineal tear, but this feeling was terrifying. I could not do the “hold your breath and bear down” kind of pushing. It was all happening too fast. I was panting through contractions but I could feel the baby moving down anyway. I started to whimper, but my midwife gave me some reassurance that I would be ok. The time had come whether I wanted it to or not – there was nothing I could do about it. They told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head. I couldn’t let go of Dan’s hands. The head popped out and the contraction was over. I had a moment and I could reach down and feel his little ear, and what was this? A little fist by his right cheek! Soon he started to turn towards my right thigh, and one by one his shoulders slipped out too. I was narrating this to the on-lookers, trying to share my experience! I lifted him up quickly and it seemed like as soon as his head was above water he started to scream. He was so purple, and his back was covered in vernix. His fist was still clenched up by his face. He cried for a moment more, and then calmed down in my arms. What time is it? 8:20! Only a little over three hours of labor, with only about 20 minutes of "pushing." Crazy for a first baby.

We all looked at him in awe – his face was swollen! I offered him my breast but he was uninterested. We thought he might be cold, so we put a hat on him and submerged his body in the water. After a few minutes, we decided it must not be warm enough for him, so Dan cut the cord and he and my mom took him and got him bundled up. I got out too and went into the bathroom to see about the placenta. I tried to sit on the toilet and pee, but I couldn’t. After what seemed like forever trying to just go, I tried nursing the baby and this time he did latch on – and what do you know, the placenta came right out! I didn’t even feel it. Upon examination, there appeared to be a “double membrane” which may have been why my water never broke on its own. Baby nursed for a few more minutes. Then we went to check out the damage – I had two first degree tears that each got a little stitch. Not bad for a nuchal hand! I was basically right about feeling where I was going to tear – but thankfully it didn’t upset any important structures.

After I was all cleaned up, we looked the baby over and determined that he was perfect. 8 lbs even, 20 ¼ inches long. He was still a little chilly so we kept him wrapped up with a heating pad and settled into bed. He basically slept for the next 12 hours, and I couldn’t even fathom closing my eyes – I was so high! So we got up and proceeded to call all our family and friends. Did I mention it was Father’s Day? Dan was pretty pleased about that… And that is how Gregory Sebastian turned us into a family.

Maisie ~ unassisted birth

so i completely neglected the blog towards the end of my pregnancy...which was probably a good thing. i was cranky. i was not a happy mama. if i had made any entries, they would've been cranky and no fun to read.

the crankiness finally gave way to a surprisingly fast and very intense 1-1/2 hour labor and birth. during a snowstorm. i didn't have time to use any of my comfort measures (i had envisioned a fire in the fireplace, hot tea, listening to music...none of it happened). here's the story:

i woke up Jan. 24th with bloody show and some crampy ctx, but i'd had that the day before, too. i figured it would be another day of prodromal labor, so decided to lay on the couch, especially since i knew corey would be gone most of the day at the funeral home (yay for being on call!).

towards the afternoon, the ctx got a bit intense and i had more show, so i thought for sure i was heading into active labor. i told corey to come home at his earliest convenience because i thought it was time and i got the birth supplies out and ready to go....then it all stopped. which made me feel dumb. how can i be on my third kid and not know if i'm in labor?

corey got home a couple hours later and during that time nothing had really happened. ctx had all but stopped and i wasn't having anymore show. i was getting extremely frustrated. my mom and dad brought dinner over later in the evening. i kept having a pressure sensation, but couldn't really call it ctx because it didn't hurt. at that point, though, i was just hoping that labor would start by the following morning, otherwise corey would have to go into work.

after the kids went to bed, i ended up taking a nap on the couch until about 1:30 am, at which point corey decided to go to bed. i was still having pressure, and an occasional crampy ctx, but it never felt like labor; it never got a pattern going. i was restless, though, so from 1:30 to 3 am i puttered around the house, took a bath, watched tv, all the while convinced i was having more prodromal labor and i'd never see the end of this...

i had a couple intense ctx at 3 am that really got my attention, and some more show. i was getting really restless, moving from the toilet to the living room, arguing with myself about the pros and cons of getting back into the bathtub. i started to get nauseous. i wanted company. i woke corey up and he came out and laid on the couch while i continued wandering back and forth, spaced out (the thought that i might be in transition crossed my mind, but i couldn't believe that could be a possibility since i hadn't even really been laboring up to this point). i did have enough sense to get the chux pads and towels into the living room, though. good thing...

(this next part gets all stream-of-consciousness because that's really the only way i remember it)

round about 4 am (i think, can't be sure) i started having what i finally would've called labor ctx...except they were more like late labor ctx, and i hadn't had a chance to build up to that yet, so i couldn't get on top of them. and now i'm grunting at the peak of the ctx. and now i'm pushing. no, wait, pushing? why am i pushing? i can't be ready to push yet...what the hell is going on here? but there's definite blood on the chux pads i put down in front of the couch, and i can no longer lean on the couch in between ctx, but i think that's more because now i'm not getting a break in between ctx, they're right on top of each other, can't catch a break...and now my pelvis is being forced open, the baby's head is moving through, and i can feel every bit of it. on my knees in front of the couch, the head goes through my pelvis and drops onto the pelvic floor in one fluid movement. water finally breaks. corey wakes up and jumps behind me to catch. i check the color of the water on the pads real quick, then try to go back to focusing on what's happening, because now the head is crowning and it's everything i can do to hold it back and let the tissue stretch to avoid body is in control and just wants everything out now, and i'm doing everything i can to fight my body to prevent damage...i can feel the head hasn't molded. i hold back as long as possible and then give in. the head comes out, then the body without a pause. corey manages to catch her and maneuver her around to my front while i sit back. her cord is wrapped around a leg, goes across her shoulders and the back of her neck, and is tangled up in her right arm, holding it up at an angle behind her head. while untangling, i see meconium smeared on her, and now on me, but i know it must have happened while she was emerging or shortly after because the water had been clear. i manage to get it untangled and then check to see what we have....a GIRL!! i thought for sure it was a boy!! but i don't care, i have a baby!

i think she was half-asleep when she came out. she made a couple squawks after a few minutes, but initially just grunted and half opened one eye. she seemed a little put out that she found herself outside her cozy home, but was willing to go along with the location change. born at roughly 4:35 am, Jan. 25, 2010, weighing 9 lbs 2 oz and 22 inches long.

so there it is. i have a squishy 6-week-old sleeping on me as i post this. i thought for sure i was done having babies, that this would be my last, but i'm finding myself rethinking that decision...i can't say for sure that i'm done. i just can't. it's too final. so instead i will wait and see what the future holds for us. maybe in another few years...

Birth Stories: Evan ~ medicated hospital VBAC

AJ had a GI appointment on December 6. We had waited 3 months for this appointment and I was afraid I would miss it being in labor with Evan. I was just over 38 weeks at this point, but had been in threatened labor since 34 weeks. We left the appointment at 3:30pm and I had my first contraction in the parking lot!

We went to eat dinner at my mother-in-law's house that night. We were watching Wheel of Fortune at 6:30pm when I started having contractions. I went home about 7:45pm with out AJ and my husband so I could take a bath and see what happens since they were coming 10 minutes apart at this point. They didn't stop and got to be 7 mintues apart! I decided to go to bed and try and rest. While in bed, they spaced out to 12 minutes apart but they were so uncomfortable that I had to get up. I decided to move to the couch about 11:30pm. I just wasn't comfortable laying down so I hopped on my birth ball and starting playing on the computer.

They were getting more intense now and coming 7 minutes apart. At about 2am they were getting pretty intense and I really had to breathe through them, though they weren't really painful. I decided to start getting ready to go so when we hit the magic 5 minutes apart I'd be ready to go! I showered and went in and told Adam we would need to go soon. I didn't think we needed to rush so I went back and started getting dressed in the bathroom. I had a few contractions while I was getting ready and my husband came in and said those were only 3 minutes apart! I decided to hurry at that point. We got everything together and AJ woke up right then so we were all set. It's about 2:55am now and we drop AJ off at mother-in-law's house.

We show up at the hospital about 3:30am. Things started to get really hard at that point as the contractions were coming much closer together and were more painful at that point. They checked me and I was 5-6 cm and I opted for the epidural at that point because the contractions were coming back to back with no break at that point. I had to get some IV fluids before I could get the epidural and do my paperwork so it was 4:45am before I got it. The last hour was spent scaring all the other mommies on the floor with my yelling! About 5:30am I felt a trickle between my legs and thought my water had broken. I was wrong, it was blood! I called the nurse and she called the DR and got me cleaned up and tried to see if my water was broken and she couldn't tell. I was 6-7cm at this point and I tried to tell it should be soon. She just smiled that 'this lady is crazy and has no idea what she's talking about' smile. The DR had just told the nurse to watch me and make sure baby kept looking good. With every contraction though I was having more blood!

About 6:15am Evan's heartrate got really high. The nurse gave me some O2 to see if it would help. At 6:30am Evan's heartrate took a drastic drop into the 60s and I got rolled over immediately to see if it would help. My DR showed up right then just to check on me! What amazing timing! The DR checked me and I was 10cm, which was a blessing because Evan needed out NOW! I've never seen so many people move so fast. The NICU team was in there, nurses, the DR, lots of people! He tried to break my water and there wasn't anything to break. We now realize I had little to no fluid at this point and who knows how long that has been an issue. The DR gets the forceps out, I give one big push and he pulls and Evan Thomas Girard on December 7! He's blue and not crying. I'm bawling at this point because I birthed my baby and he's not crying! Something I could not accomplish 18 months and 10 days ago, I accomplished now! Evan was my VBAC baby! He starts to cry and it's the best sound ever. We were all so relieved to hear him. It was 6:43am, almost exactly 12 hours after labor started. He was 7#8.1oz and 19" long. 5 ounces bigger than my cesarean baby!

My placenta is delivered and confirms that I had a placental abruption. My blessed VBAC was almost a medically necessary cesarean. I held him while I was stitched up and got to breastfeed him immediately after that. A far cry from the 8 hours it took to get AJ to feed after my cesarean. This birth was really freeing for me. I was NOT broken, I could birth babies vaginally and it was just amazing even if it's nothing like I had imagined.