10 October 2011

Our Birth Story: A Completely Natural Hospital Birth.

Our story starts at around 7 PM on Wednesday, 14 September 2011. I had started feeling more and more contractions, and for the first time ever, they were causing my low back to ache and my abdomen to feel crampy. My husband and I decided that we weren’t going to “freak out” about it, and went out to dinner at Red Lobster, joking that it might be our last dinner as a “single couple.” :)

When we got home, we did our typical thing: got comfy in our recliners and switched on “Dexter” (we just started season 2- haha). After a couple episodes, Kevin said he was tired and we both went to bed together. I slept maybe a total of an hour and then woke up to more cramping and the bad back aches, but I was used to not sleeping by this point due to acid reflux and pregnancy insomnia! So I just got up and walked around the living room. By 2 AM (15 September 2011), I was definitely having to breathe through each contraction, but I was still sort of in denial (I was 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant at that point and thought it’d never happen!). At 3 AM, I was certain this had to be something, and I went to go lie back down to try and rest. That ended up waking up my husband, because I was breathing pretty deeply by that point.

Until 6 AM, my husband and I laboured together in bed. I squeezed his hand and the headboard of the bed, and made sure to make the low groans and moans and deep breaths that I had read help to “open up” everything inside you. We didn’t want to call my doula too early, because we were both still a little reluctant to believe that this was “it.” So we had waited until a “decent” hour, then texted her. At that point, I was getting a little frantic and had started tearing up, so I got in the shower, letting the warm water run over me while I hung off the top of the shower railing during contractions and sort of swayed my hips around.

When Marivette (our doula) showed up about 15 minutes later, things started getting real. I was having a lot of back pain, so she suggested I put my leg up on a chair (like the Captain Morgan’s pose) and swaying through several contractions to have the baby rotate off my back. We turned on KLOVE radio in both the living room and the bedroom, because coincidentally, the landscapers we had hired to fix the backyard had started making all kinds of noise (jackhammers, yelling, hammering, etc). Marivette encouraged me to eat little snacks since I was starting to get shaky, but I just wasn’t hungry- I was too nervous and excited and well… in pain… to be thinking about food. I’d eat, but it just felt like lead in my stomach.

We just kept going and going, the pain kept ramping up, and I was getting less and less able to focus through the pain. I wanted to lie down on the bed because the shaking was getting uncontrollable, and Marivette stacked pillows around me, under me, behind me, etc. Kevin went about packing things up, taking a shower, getting himself and our things ready, while Marivette massaged my legs and feet and hands through each contraction, encouraging my now louder moans and deep breaths. It was so difficult to relax my body when all I wanted to do was kick and cry and tense my back and belly up!

At around 11 AM, Marivette suggested that Kevin check my cervix, which is something my obstetrician had given him sterile gloves for and showed him how to do. Marivette got out her dilation cards that can help determine how “wide” the cervix is throughout labour. Kevin checked me between a contraction, and said that it felt like I was at about a tight 6 cm dilated. He called our obstetrician’s office to let them know, and they suggested we head out in an hour or two, and that they’d be calling the hospital to let them know we’d be coming. After some reluctance and nervousness on my part, I agreed with Kevin and Marivette that we should leave around noon or 12:30 to get to the hospital.

When that time finally came, we piled all our bags and pillows (I brought my body pillow and two of my head pillows from home- SUCH a good idea!) into the car, along with snacks and water and all that fun stuff. I was really nervous about the car ride, since my mom said that was just horrible when she was driving to the hospital to give birth to me. Turns out, it wasn’t so bad. We switched on KLOVE again, which was so soothing, and I grabbed onto the door handle every time a contraction hit. Kevin thinks it’s funny that I made labour into a “religious experience” (his words)- every contraction, I would moan: “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord God” and sometimes try to sing with the radio.

(Side note: If it sounds like labour was “easy” or “fun” so far- it wasn’t. At that point, it wasn’t the “worst” of it, but it was HARD.)

When we got to the hospital, my husband called out to the valet to get a wheelchair. A hospital “transporter” took me into the ER, where a nurse asked “Why are you here, Hun?” I looked at her skeptically: “I’m in LABOUR.” So she called up to labour and delivery, then pushed me over to the side, where about a dozen people were waiting in the ER, all of the staring right at me as I moaned through contractions. :| Marivette said: “Jeez, just put you on display!” and helped me turn myself away from the gawkers.

When we got up to the maternity ward, we found out that there were no rooms available. The nurses were absolutely ice-cold in personality, and kept asking questions, even as I was moaning through contractions. We got set up on a gurney in the hallway, along with 2 or 3 other women, where anyone who was walking by could see (and definitely hear!) me. At that point, they asked me to put on a hospital gown. I told them I’d wear my own (the Pretty Pushers gown!), and Kevin and Marivette helped me put in on, right there in the open. Speaking of “out in the open,” the nurse strapped me up to a portable contraction/fetal heart tone monitor and then brutally (like seriously, the worst ever) checked my cervix for dilation and effacement. I was bummed to hear that I was still at a “5-6 cm” with about 80% effacement.

At that point, we were getting pretty aggressive with the nurses, and Kevin pulled out our birth plan- yes, we were planning on going all-natural. This is where things were starting to get fuzzy. Kevin did a lot of the talking with the nurses (he was such a great advocate for me!) and Marivette helped me through each contraction. You could tell they didn’t see or hear too many naturally labouring mothers in the active stages, because Kevin helped me to the restroom down the hall (used by the whole maternity ward and general public!), and after peeing, I had a hard contraction and started moaning and leaning on Kevin… this alarmed the nurses, who started knocking frantically and asking: “Are you okay in there!?” My husband said: “Yes, she’s just in labour!”

(Turns out one of the nurses was actually a friend of mine from when I was working in medical records, too! :P She pulled some strings, and within 15 minutes, they had a room for me, praise the Lord! Also, my mother-in-law is the chief clinical dietitian there at the hospital and had quietly/secretly come up to pull rank to get me a room, too. I didn’t know she was there until AFTER I had the baby, though.)

They took some blood “just in case” I needed a transfusion- thankfully, that didn’t hurt. However, when I got to my room, the “brutal cervical exam” nurse came in to place a heplock/saline lock (basically, a line into my vein, just in case they had to start an IV, but without the fluids), and she TOTALLY popped a vein! :( Can you believe that was the only time I had burst into tears by that point!? So after she casually said: “Oops, it didn’t take- we’ll have to try again,” I immediately said NO, and agreed that I was refusing to have any needles (whether IV or heplock) in my arm! To me, that was so awesome. :) As for monitoring, they called my obstetrician, who said that they could do intermittent monitoring- he wanted my contractions and fetal heart tones to be monitored for 20 minutes, every hour. It wasn’t so awesome, since I kept wanting to shower, or pee, or even just walk around/get comfortable in the bed, but it was better than being in a blood pressure cuff, with two tight straps around my belly the entire time in labour!

After several more hours, my “peaceful” demeanour had disappeared. I was yelling, kicking, tensing up through every painful contraction. I will be totally honest when I say that I REALLY wanted that epidural- or to just die. But Marivette would not let me back down, and just kept swabbing my body down with cold washcloths. (Oh, did I mention that the Pretty Pushers gown came off after the first shower I took at the hospital, and I ended up just being naked for the rest of my time at the hospital? :P) I kept gripping the handles of the bed, and foccused on the whiteboard behind Kevin’s head (he was now standing in front of me, and Marivette was behind me massaging my low back really hard and encouraging every “good birthing moan” I was doing).

I started crying when I agreed to a cervical exam, and found out that I was still at a 6-7 cm. I thought it would never end! I was shaking violently, and just wanted out of my body! I was exhausted too, since I hadn’t slept and hadn’t eaten since 1130 AM (when I had some pea soup). But the contractions just kept coming, the pain just kept coming, and Marivette’s firm reassurance that I could do it just kept coming. I was glad the nurses stayed out of the room unless they were coming in to hook me up for my 20 minutes of monitoring. I think they might have been scared! :P

After a few more hours, I felt like I had to poop- really, really badly. I had Kevin help me to the toilet, and suddenly, I needed to grunt and I felt like I was going to go “number two”… We worked through that for a little bit, then I got in the shower again, where I squatted through that pooping feeling (not to mention, yelled about how I “have to poop so bad!” every 30 seconds or so!). Back to the toilet, then back in the shower, then back on the toilet, then back on the bed, naked and wet.

At that point, Marivette was concerned, and didn’t want me pushing unless my cervix was ready (dilated/effaced enough). She had them check me, and I was at a 9.5! I still didn’t believe that was far enough along after so many hours, but at least Marivette wasn’t as concerned, and encouraged me to make little short grunts instead of allowing me to bear down fully. I still thought I just had to go poop! :P And oh, then my membranes (water) finally broke- and despite being totally wrapped up in the pain of labour, I was thrilled to hear my husband announce that it was clear- “no meconium!”

I was so exahusted by that point. I was in pain, terrified, and felt like I wanted to die. I kept asking them to just cut the baby out, and that I didn’t want the baby after all. The little grunts had become full-time hard pushes. Kevin said it was incredible to see me grimace through each contraction, because I looked like I was smiling! Haha, yeah right! I thought my butt was going to fall off, and I kept announcing that to everyone in the room. The next time I got checked, I was fully-dilated and my obstetrician was paged.

When he got there, everyone helped me scoot down to the bottom of the bed, where there were stirrups. I had thought that I would want to squat or get on all-fours, but in that moment, I was so exhausted that I didn’t fight pushing on my back. The pushing was excruciatingly painful and felt like it took forever! I guess he kept popping out, then back in, despite me pushing with my body- makes sense and is only natural, but in the moment, it was horribly painful and frustrating (especially since everyone kept saying “You’re doing great! Just one more push!”… except that “one more push” was actually, like, 50 more pushes). My obstetrician had to really stretch me, and Kevin got in there and massaged me with mineral oil, while Marivette pushed a warm washcloth on my perineum. I guess the baby needed to be rotated to the side, too, since his head bones were pushing against my pelvic bones.

Again, I thought I was going to die, and at the end, I was full-out screaming at some points. After around 1.5 hours of pushing, however, my husband pulled our beautiful baby boy out and onto my chest! The doctor almost clamped the cord immediately, but after Kevin mentioned waiting, he immediately stopped. Because I didn’t have Pitocin pumped into my body afterwards (to stop the bleeding), they had to massage my uterus really hard and the obstetrician ended up needing to go up inside my uterus and pull out a few blood clots to keep me from going septic later. It was excruciating! He also had to suture up several internal tears, but I didn’t have any external tearing. But it was so awesome, because Lucas immediately latched on! It was amazing! Of course, Kevin burst out into tears of joy after pulling him out, and all I could say was: “Oh, my beautiful boy!”



Lucas Dean was born at exactly 9 PM on 15 September 2011, weighing 7 pounds, 7.58 ounces, measuring 20.5 inches. He has blonde hair and blue/grey eyes, long fingers and toes, and perfectly chubby cheeks. <3

More photos here: Welcome to the World, Baby Lucas!