Birth Story Part I
So, it's 9am Thursday morning, I'm in labor on my own and we've been laboring in bed for 9 hours...time to make a move.
So, it's 9am Thursday morning, I'm in labor on my own and we've been laboring in bed for 9 hours...time to make a move.
The very first thing I did and I strongly recommend this to anyone who goes into labor at home, I brushed my teeth and I TOOK A SHOWER. I sat on the birth ball in the shower and Dom got in with me and helped me wash my hair. Contractions were picking up but totally manageable, I could breathe through them easily and I loved this first shower of the morning...I spent quite a while in there, mentally preparing to switch gears again and get this baby out au naturale.
The day pretty much progressed in a blur from here. I did a lot of moving around the room, swaying while I held onto Dom's neck, on the bed, off the bed, bent over the bed, on the birth ball, in the bath. It was interesting to see what positions felt good and which ones I couldn't wait to get out of. At one point I had my arms draped over Dom's neck swaying, while one midwife put pressure on my back and one midwife put pressure on my hips. Here's where I'm going to say ANYONE WHO WANTS TO LABOR NATURALLY, GET YOURSELF A BIRTH TEAM. There was no fewer than 3 people in the room with me at all times and I kept them BUSY! Getting drinks, getting snacks, pulling my hair back into a ponytail, pinning my bangs, pushing on hips, letting me lean on them, etc etc. Don't pretend that you and your husband can do this by yourselves...you can't, get yourself a whole slew of people in there!
Sometime in the afternoon things were starting to get really intense and I was feeling pretty strong rectal pressure, which from this point on became what my contractions felt like, they were no longer in my uterus, they were almost exclusively in my rectum. And while I wasn't pushing consciously and was just trying to relax into the feeling, always thinking "open" thoughts, at some point my body started bearing down on it's own. I should also mention I was also fully naked at this point except for my monitors and had been for hours as I moved all over the room. I never put clothes on again until long after delivering the baby. There's no modesty in labor, there's no part of you that has time to concentrate on such things. I had also switched from breathing through the contractions to full on moaning at some point, the low guttural moans just sort of flow out of your body and if you can direct them they REALLY help as pain management. I SWEAR.
But the bearing down sensation was becoming really unbearable and to top it off I was now getting back labor too. BACK LABOR SUCKS!
At about 5pm I had a bit of a breakdown, it was the back labor that finally threw me over the edge. We decided on a cervical check since I hadn't been checked since midnight.
A good 17 hours of labor and we were only at 5cm. I lost it. All the breathing, moaning, relaxing went out the window and I was in PAIN. I started crying and told everyone I didn't want to do this anymore. If we were at home I would power through but since we were in the hospital and everything was so fucked up anyway I just wanted to get it over and done with. I WAS DONE. I told them I just wanted the damn epidural now so my back would quit hurting. Add this to the reasons to have a team of people with you, at this point everyone encouraged me to keep going, that I could quit if I really wanted to, but that I was doing it, (even the nurse, which I vividly remember for some reason, you always hear about nurses offering anesthesia over and over until you finally cave) I was getting my birth I wanted I was just in a hospital and still contracting and progressing really well.
We decided to try some nitrous oxide to take the edge off the back pain and see if I could keep going. I cried my way through the next few contractions on the nitrous and while it didn't really help, somehow in that hazy light headed feeling I found something within myself that wanted to keep going. But I had to move to try to get the baby out of the terrible position that was causing the back labor. Hands and knees sounded like the worst position in the world to be in but my midwives insisted this was a good position to move the baby. So, somehow we decided on hands and knees IN THE SHOWER so I could have the hot water spraying my back and also try to get baby to turn.
THIS BECAME MY NEW FAVORITE POSITION and I basically did not want to leave the shower ever again. I stayed here for hours. Literally hours, not figuratively hours, the one plus to a hospital birth is the hot water NEVER runs out! I ate hard boiled eggs here, I had the most amazing delicious cup of coffee here, I loved it here. These were the most special, intimate, just the two of us moments between Dom and I. He got in the bath with me and sat on a teeny tiny ledge that I'm sure hurt to be sitting on and let me lean on him as I breathed and moaned through every contraction.
It's so interesting that between contractions you feel perfectly fine. You can talk, you can walk, you can kind of come back out of labor land mentally. I will look back on those moments between contractions while it was just the two of us in the shower and remember how special it all was, this is the part of my birth that was beautiful, the fact that I have those moments to look back on with nothing but joy. And as each contraction swept over me I had Dom whispering in my ear that I was doing a good job...it didn't matter how many people were actually there...it was just the two of us bringing our baby into the world.
So now that I was in the tub and had found a position that didn't bring on the back labor I was so scared of getting out of the tub and getting back labor again and was really hesitant to try any new positions. It was THAT bad that I didn't think I could survive even one contraction with back labor again. So, this girl wasn't leaving that amazing hot water that was pounding on my back through each contraction!
BUT there's a downside to being in hot water...you get dehydrated and overheated, so at some point I ended up back on the bed so that I could get some fluids through my IV and we also decided to get checked again as the bearing down sensation was absolutely excruciating and we needed to know if it was time to push yet or if my body was still just doing it on it's own prematurely.
I was at a whopping 6 cm and all the bearing down was starting to swell my cervix.
It was close to midnight again, almost Friday morning and I had been laboring for 24 hours and I was now being told to breathe out with each contraction and FIGHT the urge to push rather than relax around it and I had nothing left. Once I got on that bed I was literally falling asleep between contractions. I had heard stories of women falling asleep in between contractions but didn't believe it was possible.
It's totally possible.
My contractions were starting to slow as well, in an effort to preserve ME my body was trying to give me a break. I had three options at this point, get up off the bed and move around to try to get the contractions going again, start pitocin on a low dose to keep contractions going and see if I could handle it or get an epidural, get some pitocin to keep the contractions going and get some sleep.
I couldn't imagine trying to get off that bed, move around and continue to fight that bearing down sensation. I also couldn't imagine continuing to lay there adding pitocin to the mix, and still try to fight that bearing down sensation while my contractions got stronger and stronger from the drugs.
SO I CHOSE SLEEP.
And here is where that stupid little fact of me coming in the night before rather than the next morning becomes so important. We all agree that if I had gotten one last good night's sleep I probably would have been able to finish this without that damn epidural as the point I was at, 6cm to 10cm, is usually a relatively short phase of labor.
But I was so tired, I just didn't care anymore and wanted it done. I was completely and utterly exhausted and felt SO DEFEATED. I even began to think about a C-sections at this point and decided I didn't care if I had to have a C-section either, I just wanted the baby out.
It still makes me cry just thinking about how completely defeated I felt and how pissed I am about that one night of sleep.
So, in comes the anesthesiologist and in goes the epidural, which, ladies, if you've been laboring at all the pain of the epidural is so minor as to almost be insignificant. A little sting in your back is nothing like a contraction in active labor. I almost laughed when he said "you're gonna feel a little stinging", I was like WHO THE FUCK CARES ABOUT STINGING!
I HATED THE EPIDURAL and will never ever ever get one again if there is any way to avoid it. But the pain was going away and after they got me all settled I finally, FINALLY could sleep.
ONE hour later I wake up with some breakthrough pain in the right side of my uterus. After so many hours of back labor and that awful rectal pressure I actually had forgotten what a contraction felt like in my uterus. It hurt in a very very different way than what had been happening before and was honestly quite easy to breathe through, but MOTHERFUCKER I gave in to that damn epidural, I WANTED NO PAIN AND TO SLEEP. I also had the most awful disgusting heartburn suddenly that was so bad I was almost throwing up. I was so miserable guys, so so miserable.
After another hour of trying to get me the right drugs to get the heartburn to go away, the right amount of top off to the epidural to get the pain to go away and my midwife getting me out of an unnecessary vaginal exam I was finally in no pain again and back to sleep.
Blissful blissful sleep.
Two hours later, at 4am, 28 hours of labor later I have millions of people back in my room, everyone thinks I'm probably fully dilated now as my contractions on the monitor look strong. I'm so numb at this point from the epidural that I don't even really open my eyes for the vaginal exam, but then someone whispers ok, Jesica, time to open your eyes and push your baby out!
Relief swept over me, the 2 hour nap gave me the energy I needed to finish this thing out and the pushing began. It was super weird to push with the epidural but apparently I was doing it well as every time I pushed people kept exclaiming, Oh wow! Good pushing! Look at that! etc etc. Baby's head was already visible just a few pushes in. After about 20 minutes pushing was going fine, baby was moving down with each push and stretching me out a bit between contractions. Somewhere in here I asked for a mirror so I could see, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you're pushing through an epidural. Seeing the baby head completely freaked me out, but it really helped me direct my pushing, I could see what worked to move baby down and what didn't because I couldn't feel anything.
After just 45 minutes of pushing, at 4:45am on Friday morning, 29 hours after labor started, my midwife grabbed my hand and said help pull your baby out. I reached down and helped pull baby the rest of the way out and onto my chest. As I admired the little squirming baby covered in goo on my chest, tears streaming down my face, I asked if it was a boy or a girl and everyone said YOU TELL US! I looked down, got the little wiggler to separate his legs and declared BOY! A son, still so strange to say.
My midwife excitedly tells me my perineum is still intact and that I just have 2 tiny tears on either side of my labia where the baby's hand was up by his head when he came out. After an uber quick delivery of the placenta which came out with my very next contraction my midwife tells me that they don't normally stitch the little tears that I have but since I'm already numb and the stitches sting less than tears when you pee after delivery the stitches would probably be preferable. I accepted this logic, anything to make postpartum recovery easier was fine by me.
A few minutes later we were done. All the way, officially, finally done. I had a healthy baby. We had a vaginal delivery. I labored naturally like I'd wanted to for the vast majority of the time. And I had an intact perineum.
But I mourn the fact that I didn't get to feel him leave my body. And that I feel like I gave up 5 hours from the end. I was so so close and I gave up.
It took a few hours for me to be able to feel my left leg again, but once I could finally walk and PEE, (apparently the all important thing about an epidural is to be able to pee afterward) we left the hospital as soon as we could. I WAS NOT staying another night in that place after having already been there for 2, so after a lot of signing of paperwork saying we were leaving against medical advice and taking the baby against medical advice we were finally home and able to pretend that we'd been there the whole time. Our bedroom became our little nest that we didn't leave until Monday when I finally just needed to use my legs a bit and a change of scenery.
All in all it was a good delivery, obviously not short by any means at 29 hours, but so many things I was worried about regarding hospital births didn't happen and I know I need to be grateful for what I was able to have even though we did not get the homebirth we had planned and I didn't have the fully natural birth that I wanted.
I will write about the preeclampsia in another post and discuss my anger, not about the diagnosis per se as it became quite clear that I was in fact on my way to preeclampsia if not already there, but the robotic like way in which the hospital treated the diagnosis and subsequent induction. I'll also tell you the results of the 24 hour urine test that I told you I finished.
If you made it to the end Congratulations, sorry it was so long!