Thursday, July 11, 2013

Baby A's Birth Story

It has taken me a month to get this written out and share Baby A with the world. I was a happy momma cuddling with my new baby and wanted to keep him to myself for a while. :) I had an amazing birth experience, though, and I really wanted to share it with everyone to show that you can have the birth you want and look back on it with joy if you are prepared and have the right mindset.

I prepared for childbirth by attending birthing classes and reading countless birth stories. I think the most important thing I took away from these is that you cannot plan and predict your birth experience down to every little detail. I knew the birth experience that I wanted, but I also knew that so much of it was out of my control and that I needed to expect the unexpected. By arming myself with knowledge about c-sections, episiotomies and other interventions and complications, I felt secure with the choices I made in my birth plan, but also knew that I would trust my midwife's judgement if she recommended anything that was not a part of my plan. 

By going into it with the frame of mind that my birth experience may not look the way I expected it to look, I was able to accept everything that came my way. I was never scared and I never felt like this was something my body shouldn't be able to do. I knew that my baby and I could work together to make this happen and that I was built to do this...... 

I went into labor on June 7, 2013.

The morning was like any other morning. I woke up, worked out and did a little work in the garden. We needed groceries, but I knew I could go into labor at any time because I was already four days late so I went out to pick up groceries and run a few other errands, but only bought a few days worth of food just in case. While I was driving between stores, I noticed my contractions were painful for the first time, but they were barely noticeable and about 20 minutes apart. When I was in the store walking around they went away so I didn’t think anything of it.

My new name
I came home and took a nap until about 5:30pm when Kevin came home from work. We both napped upstairs for a bit and around 7:00pm I told him I felt a contraction. Then about five minutes later I told him I felt another one. He said we should probably start timing them, but they were still not very painful so I didn’t think much of it. I came downstairs and cooked dinner while Kevin napped a little longer.

As we were eating dinner, I was feeling more contractions and they were a bit stronger so we started timing them. By the time we finished eating they were almost a minute long and between four and five minutes apart. Kevin thought this might be it and we should get going, but I was so worried about getting to the hospital too early that I tried to stall. I suggested we go for a walk around the block.

It was about 9:30pm when we left for our walk and as soon as we left the house I realized I had to slow down or stop walking during each contraction. Kevin was still timing them and they were getting closer to three minutes apart. At that point I knew this was it so I cut our walk a little short and we headed home to call our midwife, Alison. I spoke to Alison and told her my contractions were three minutes apart and lasting close to a minute each. She said if they are getting to the point where I have to work through them then I might want to come in and get checked.

I could stare at him all day
Kevin already had our bags by the door so we got in the car and headed for the hospital. When we arrived, it was already 10:30pm so the main entrance was closed and we had to walk all the way around to the ER entrance. I had to stop along the way whenever a contraction hit, but we eventually made it inside where Kevin checked us in and I went to the bathroom, where I had a couple more contractions.

We sat down in the waiting room and chatted with a man who had a piece of metal sticking out of his foot from a lawn mower accident. It was odd having a conversation and having to stop every few minutes, close my eyes and stay completely silent as I focused on my contractions, but he was very nice about it. As soon as they brought my wheelchair another contraction hit and I had to ask her to give me a minute while I entered my own little world again to stay focused.

Once we made it up to triage, they hooked me up to the monitors and drew some blood. I HATED having to lie down and I couldn't wait to get out of there. It made the contractions so much more uncomfortable. It felt like forever before my nurse, Amanda, came and got me to take me over to my labor and delivery room.

When we got into our room, they hooked me back up to the monitors and I had to lie down for a few more contractions. Then they let me get on the telemetry monitors so I could walk around. The rooms was really nice, with a tub and dimmer lights. Most of the medical equipment was hidden in cabinets so it actually felt more like a hotel room. My midwife stopped in to say hi and let me know she was going to try and get some sleep. I mostly paced around the room and found Kevin whenever a contraction was coming on so he could hold me and rock back and forth with me a bit. I was still pretty quiet at this point, just letting out a small sigh at the end of each contraction.

When Kevin wasn't busy with me, he was writing the beginning of our birth story and taking a few pictures. He also played the labor playlist he made on our iPad, which was a lot of Avett Brothers, Josh Ritter, Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and even some Daft Punk.

My little guy's first day on Earth
Amanda was so awesome and just let us do our thing, checking on us every so often. I had no sense of what time it was or how much time was passing. I really wanted to get off the monitors, but they wouldn't let me because the baby's heart rate was staying so calm and not jumping up during contractions. I couldn't even sit on the birth ball because it was picking up my heart rate and not the baby's when I did. Amanda brought me a popsicle to try and jump baby's heart rate, but it still didn't work. I also munched on the "labor ade" ice cubes that we made at home and brought along in a large water bottle. I didn't feel like drinking so the ice cubes were a life saver.

Eventually, I asked Amanda when I could get the monitor off and get in the tub because I could tell things were progressing and I thought it might help my pain. At this point, I was making a low humming noise through each contraction and Kevin would rub my back or massage my low back. It was totally involuntary, but I couldn't stay silent. She placed some contraption on my belly that made a vibrating noise and I felt the baby jump. She did it a few more times and said that was good enough and let me get in the tub.

I got in the tub on my knees and rested my head on the side of the tub. I tried to keep my hips open as wide as I could and things got really intense, really quickly. I was making a loud, steady meditating noise through each contraction and at the end of every few contractions I felt an involuntary urge to push. Amanda said when it got to the point that the pressure did not let up between contractions to call her and they would help me get out of the tub and onto the bed. That only took about 30 minutes and I told her I thought it was time to get out around 2:45am.

Amanda and Kevin helped me out of the tub and into my gown and I got into the one position on the bed that I swore I wasn't going to because I thought I would be too embarrassed! They lowered the bottom half of the bed and I got on all fours with my butt facing out for everyone in the room to see. At that time, though, I didn't care at all. I knew that position had worked in the tub and it just felt right. Kevin turned on our Sigur Ros playlist, which was very calming and relaxing as things intensified.
Our new family

My contractions continued to pick up and I felt the need to push at the end of almost every contraction now. After one contraction, my water broke with a gush, like a water balloon had popped, and I think it stunned both of us! Alison came back and I remember telling everybody how hot I was. They covered my back and forehead with ice cold washcloths and Alison somehow set up a fan next to my face, but I never looked up to see what she did.

I was so focused on what my body was doing that I never really looked at anybody, but I was aware they were there helping me. Kevin scratched my back through every contraction, which was really soothing. I honestly never even thought about getting any pain medication. It probably helped that things moved so quickly, but I just kept reminding myself that my body was made to do this and I thought about all the women who had done this before me and I felt like they were there with me.

It wasn't longer than thirty minutes or so that I felt I was actually pushing. Alison was amazing and told me to just do what my body told me to do. When I felt like pushing, I did. I usually felt the need to push two or three times through each contraction and I would let out a loud grunting noise when I bared down to push. I had no frame of reference to determine how my pain level coincided with my progress, but it felt more intense than it did painful. I just kept pushing and would rest between contractions because I didn't want to push too fast and tear.

Moments after Baby A's  birth
After only about 30 minutes of pushing I could hear people saying they could see the head and Alison asked if I wanted to touch the head. I reached down and touched it, but it didn't feel like a head. I wouldn't have known what it was except that she told me it was the head. That did give me a lot of encouragement, though, so I kept pushing and resting and then I heard Alison say to give one more push to get the shoulders out. I had no idea the head was even out yet so I gave one big push and I felt the baby slide out.

I felt so much relief inside my body and then I heard the baby let out a cry right away. I realized I still didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl so I asked Kevin “What is it?” and he told me it was a boy. I thought I would start crying, but I was so overwhelmed by everything that had happened I was just kinds of stunned still. Our son was officially born at 3:32am on June 8, 2013. He was 8lbs, 9oz and 21in long.

Alison passed him underneath me so I could hold him and I scooted up on the bed so I could lie down with him on my chest while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. Kevin cut the cord as I held our son. He was so quiet and alert on my chest and we just lied there while I delivered the placenta. It looked like a heart, it wasn’t round like I thought it would be.

 At some point, I told Amanda we should put a diaper on him before it was too late. Well, it was too late. There was meconium all over my stomach, but I didn’t mind. They cleaned us both up, put him in a diaper and handed him back to me. After about an hour, someone from the nursery came to do all his newborn tests and give him a bath. At some point not long after, they put me in the wheelchair to go downstairs to my recovery room. They put our son in my arms and off we went.

 When we got to recovery, the baby fell asleep I drank an endless amount of ice water and ate a banana. The rest of the morning (it was at least 5:00am by now) was a blur of nurses and different hospital staff. We finally got a bit of rest and my first real meal a few hours later. My nurses were all awesome and so helpful. I was so thankful for everything they did for us over the next few days.
Welcome home!

Baby A was so sleepy that first day, though, and he wouldn’t eat. He slept through the whole day. My nurse finally had me pump, even though his blood sugar was fine. Looking back, I wish I had waited. I was only able to pump 1cc and feed it to him through a syringe. By 6:30pm that evening, he was ready to really give breastfeeding a try and he did great. For the rest of the stay, he ate like a champ and kept me up most of the second night making up for lost time.

 We were discharged on a Monday morning, but I couldn’t get him to stop eating long enough to fill out the paperwork so we didn’t leave until almost 1:00pm. I cried when we left the hospital. I couldn’t believe he was out in the real world and we were bringing him home. I was thrilled and nervous and excited all at the same time with the responsibility of raising little Baby A.