Monday, February 3, 2014

My Birth Story~ The Truth, Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth!

Giving birth is one of the scariest things that you will ever do as a woman and as a mother. There are so many possibilities--good and bad that will swim through your mind as those final days of pregnancy draw near. I did not have a typical labor. My doctor says that my labor was in the 90th percentile. Nevertheless, in the days before I gave birth I found myself scouring the Internet looking for posts just like this one. I wanted to know all of the possibilities--the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can decide for yourself which category mine falls into.

In the last final weeks of my pregnancy I had become very uncomfortable--shocking, I know. Baby P was very large and very active, and this meant painful jabs at all hours of the day and night. While pregnant, people had offered up their horror stories about labor induction and pitocin all to frequently. However, when I was 39 weeks I had decided that I wanted her out immediately. I know lots of moms would curse me saying that I had no concern for the well being of my baby, but I have a few choice four letter words for you ladies! The truth is that I knew my body, and I knew my baby. My pregnancy was blissfully uneventful. My blood pressure sensational. I was active and healthy. I had only gained 25 pounds. The doctors had assured me that she was already plenty big. I wanted her out.

Starting at the beginning of my ninth month I had started a few rituals to help my body progress towards labor. Since I was a first time mommy--I knew that it would take a lot to make this baby come before 40 weeks. I had little fear of premature labor. I knew baby P was stubborn, and she wouldn't come on her own. So I walked every other day, pumped my breasts with a breast pump twice a day (to the point that I had 10 ounces of colostrum saved up by the time Baby P made her entrance--more on this later).

And guess what... at 39 weeks and 4 days I was still only 1 centimeter dilated and 80 percent effaced. My doctor refused to induce out of fear that it would lead to a C-section, and I was CRUSHED. With my due date looming just 3 days away, I was very pregnant and miserable. I spent that last weekend of my non-mommy life sulking and kicking all my preparation activities into high gear. We took brisk, long walks that were so painful I thought I might go into labor on the side of the road. I pumped longer and more times a day. When I went in to the doctor the following Monday at 9:30 am (a day past P's due date) I was certain he was going to send me home. Instead, he checked me out and said, "Do you want to have a baby today?"

I was instantly nervous, scared, excited, and a million other emotions all rolled into one. There is no way to truly describe it. Even now it all feels like one big blur. We rode the elevator down and giggled quietly together. We were going to have a baby today. The anticipation was too much. We were so excited. As we began the short walk across the street to the hospital for registration I dialed my mother. I told her I would be induced today, but that the doctor said the baby probably wouldn't be here until around 8:00 tonight. She told me she would work until lunch and then head on up. My husband called his parents and they were also too excited to wait until later that night.

We checked into the hospital and I put on my hospital gown. They hooked me up the fetal heart rate monitor and the monitor that showed my contractions. Then about 30 minutes later they put in my IV. This was the longest section of my labor. I sat there from about 10:30-12:30 with no pitocin and no labor had even started. I was antsy. I wanted to get this show on the road! I kept asking the nurse what the hold up was. She said, "we are waiting on the doctor to come over and break your water before we give you the pitocin. I was so anxious to hold my baby girl that I was angry that they had not given me the medicine in what I considered to be a timely manner. Looking back, no one should be in a hurry to get that stuff. The horror stories weren't wrong. It makes the contractions longer and significantly more painful.

At around 1:00 the doctor came in and broke my water. They gave me the pitocin, and told me to wait until I had dilated to a 4 for the epidural (I was at a 3). In my mind I was thinking, "ok, no big deal. I can do this for one lousy centimeter." The first contraction I felt with the pitocin lasted two whole minutes and had me writhing in the bed and screaming with tears running down my cheeks.

My husband left to pick up my step-son from school early. We had promised him that other than the two of us, and all the doctors and nurses, that he would be the first person to hold his baby sister. We were unsure how quickly the process would go, and didn't want to take the chance that he would not be nearby when she entered the world. When my hubs left I had just had my first real pitocin contraction. By the time he came back I had already gotten my epidural and was resting comfortably. How long did I last you ask? About 30 minutes. Some of you ladies may laugh, but that was 30 minutes too long in my opinion. In that thirty minutes I had already dilated to a 4. I asked for the epidural, and within the minute the anesthesiologist was in the room prepping me. I have to say that the epidural was pretty much painless. Other than those 30 minutes of contractions, the worst part of the whole process was the IV. So here is my shameless plug for drugs during labor. DO IT! I would do it over and over again.

So what does the epidural feel like? It is very hard to explain. You feel everything, but you feel no pain.   What???? I mean that I could touch my leg, and feel that I was touching it. I could feel Baby P's head as it was coming out, but I did not feel any pain associated with it at all. Some women say that they are afraid they will not be able to push because they are so numb. I could feel exactly what muscles to use, and I was able to use them to push her out without problem. A little more on that later...

So how long did it take to dilate completely after that? About 2 hours! That's right, you heard it here! I am not exaggerating. This is the part of my labor that is atypical. Most people do not dilate that fast with pitocin. However, my family responds well to the drug. My mother delivered me in 4 hours with pitocin, and my aunt delivered my cousin in 2. So, I had an idea that this would happen. I was sitting in the bed, blissfully numb talking to my in-laws when I started to feel Baby P's head in the birth canal. They had only checked me 45 minutes or so ago and I was still between 4 and 5 centimeters. So I sent my parents, step-son, and in-laws to the cafeteria for a snack, and called in the nurse to check me. She protested a little saying that there was no way I had progressed much further in so short a time. I said, "I'm telling you that I feel her head and I feel like I need to push." Sure enough, she checked me and declared me complete. They sat me up and wheeled away the bottom portion of the bed and sent in some other nurses to prepare me for pushing.

When she came back in about 10 minutes later I was feeling pretty uncomfortable because I couldn't push and had a strong urge to do so. Even though the epidural takes away the pain, it does not take away the pressure of the baby's head making it's way out. It's not really painful, but it is uncomfortable. The nurse came in and said, "the doctor is right outside waiting for my cue. We are going to start to push, and you may push for two hours or so. I just want you to be prepared". She then lowered the top half of the bed so that my head, shoulders, and torso were lower than my bottom. They put both of my legs in stirrups. There was a nurse on my left side holding one foot, and my hubs was on the other. He was instructed to pull my legs back while I pushed. He did NOT look happy about it. I destinctly remember yelling at him mid push to pull my leg back further. He was afraid he was going to hurt me. The nurse instructed me that we were going to do 3 big pushes per contraction. I was to curl my body up like I was doing a sit up, bear down, and push as hard as I could while holding my breath.

The first contraction came. I curled up placed one hand on the back of each of my thighs and pushed three long hard pushes. I remember my hubs just kept saying "wow" over and over again. After the first  contraction was over the nurse looked at me and said, "You are going to have this baby on the next contraction. I'm going to get the doctor." I was shocked. This was all happening so fast that it was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I was about to be some one's mommy.

The doctor came in and I scolded him because I had warned him that my family labors fast. He told me that this never happens, but that he was happy he would make it to dinner on time. While I waited on him to get ready I was told not to push through the next contraction. This was harder than actually pushing because the urge was so strong that it made it more uncomfortable not to push than it was to push. The doctor took his place at the end of the bed. I pushed once and was told to stop. He told me he would have to cut me a little because I was starting to tear. So he cut me and told me to barely push. I gave a tiny push and heard him scream stop. I then heard the gargling wail of Baby P. Her head was out. I then got the ok to push again and then there she was. They plopped her on my tummy and began rubbing her off. She was this goopy, purple, wailing little monster.

There are no words for how you feel in that moment. It is a very surreal feeling. I heard myself saying, "hello baby girl." In my mind I just kept thinking, "That's my baby, I just had a baby." Before I knew it she was gone over to get her bath and tests run. I looked over at the hubs and he was choking back tears. It was a very sweet moment. He asked me if I wanted him to go take pictures. I told him that I did. Then I made small talk with the doctor while he delivered the placenta and stitched me up. I joked with him, that it was just, "too easy." Truthfully it was--too easy. However the recovery for me was not easy at all.

The next afternoon I began hemorrhaging in my hospital bed. I did this four times before the medication they gave me finally got it under control. This made me dehydrated, and severely weak. Couple this with the lack of sleep and the fact that Baby P had pretty severe jaundice, and my hospital stay became a nightmare. I was unable to get in and out of bed without practically screaming out in pain from my episiotomy incision. That was undoubtedly the worst part of the whole birthing process. In fact, after I got home I ripped a few stitches trying to get up off of the couch and was in tears from the pain. It took three full weeks to heal. IT WAS HELL!

Next, the jaundice. Baby P had jaundice and had to sleep on this UV light slab one night in the hospital. She hated the thing and screamed the whole night. Also because of her condition, I was heavily pressured to supplement my breast milk with formula. To the point that the nurse made me cry by telling me that I was starving my baby. Luckily, I had those ten ounces of colostrum that I had pumped while pregnant. We used this to supplement the next couple of days until my milk came in.

By the time we got home, things started to settle in. It was still really rough until my milk came in. Baby P cried pretty much every two hours out of hunger, and I felt a lot of pressure from those around me against breastfeeding. However that ceased once my milk came in and Baby P gained all her weight back in four days! (that's right... she was a champ).

My hope is that this story will give you a view of labor that you haven't seen before. I wanted to be as honest as possible because that is what I was looking for in the days before I delivered. Just remember that when it is really bad, it will get better! Stick to your guns! You know your body the best. Make them listen to you. You know what is best for you and your baby.

Caroline :)

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