Desmond’s Birth Story

At 9:30pm on the evening of August 31 (two days after my due date), I started having regular contractions. They weren’t bothering me much but I started timing them just to get an idea of how far apart they were – since this was my second baby, my doctor had advised me to go in if they reached 7 minutes apart so that we could make sure I got two doses of antibiotics for Group B Strep prior to birth. The entire week prior to this, I had several nights where I woke up to contractions that got gradually closer together before petering out at about 8 minutes apart, so I had no real reason to believe these would be different. However, they were different – these contractions steadily got closer together over a couple of hours. I hung out on the exercise ball to help them along and around midnight they were moving right along at 6 minutes apart. I made sure they were consistent for a good hour before I called Labor & Delivery. I wasn’t sure I was in labor – the contractions didn’t seem bad enough to be real labor – but you never know, right?

David and I packed up our stuff and headed to Kaiser so that I could get checked out.

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I was put into an observation room and hooked up to some monitors at about 1:30am (coincidentally, it was Labor Day). After a bit over an hour, a midwife came in to check on my dilation. I was only at 1.5cm (same as I had been on the previous Friday) and she didn’t think my labor had really started, but she felt fairly sure it was close to starting. Not only that, but the baby’s heart rate had decelerated a number of times so she wanted to keep me there for more monitoring. So we sat tight and she came and checked back in around 3am. My contractions were 4-5 minutes apart at that point, so we decided I should go ahead and get admitted.

The baby’s heart rate was fine by 7am and the contractions continued at the same rate. At 12pm, we decided to start on pitocin since I still wasn’t in active labor; we figured that my body just needed a little nudge in the right direction. I had a lot of reservations about pitocin because my labor with Jack had been long and hard, but the midwife assured me that we would go slow with the pitocin and we could turn it down or off if needed.

My contractions certainly intensified on the pitocin. I spent time going between the exercise ball and walking laps with David around the maternity ward.

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By 5pm, I had still only progressed to 3.5cm, although the baby’s head had moved lower into my pelvis. I kept doing my thing and trying to move a lot with contractions. The pitocin was slowly turned up every so often and every 4 hours I also received a dose of Penicillin for the Group B Strep (sidenote: the antibiotics had me in more pain where it was going into the IV than my contractions – OUCH!!!).

Around 7pm I put on my headphones and cranked some music (Lana del Rey!) to help me through the steadily intensifying contractions. I started needing David’s help to get through them but I still felt like the labor was manageable without any medication. David made a comment about how nice all of the nurses and midwives were…

Then there was a shift change at about 9pm…

A midwife named Doris came into the room and outlined her plan for our birth. She immediately started saying that my contractions weren’t productive, that she was concerned about the decels in the baby’s heart rate (which hadn’t occurred for hours by that point), and telling us that I was going to get too tired to birth the baby if things didn’t happen more quickly. There was talk of epidurals (was I SURE I didn’t want one??) and a c-section if I got too tired to push. The more she talked, the more agitated I got, especially after she said something about how if we followed her plan she GUARANTEED the baby would be born by morning.

Doris was a full on medwife. UGH.

After making her initial rounds, she sent our nurse in and instead of increasing the pitocin just a bit as we had been doing, she CRANKED it according to Doris’ instructions. Within 30 minutes I was doubling over with every contraction and sobbing hysterically from the pain. The contractions were maybe coming a minute apart and I had no time to recover between them. I was a shaking, crying mess, and I held onto David for dear life. I felt like I wanted to die.

Doris came back in the room and checked me, said that I still wasn’t at 4cm, asked if I wanted anything for the pain (which I rated at 8-9), and then sent the nurse back in to turn the pitocin up AGAIN. It had been about an hour since it had been cranked up and I was not coping well. Thankfully David stepped in and had the nurse turn the pitocin down a bunch to see if we could slow things down and give me a break. It took a bit of time but the contractions slowed just enough for my sobs to quiet and I was able to get a few breaths in.

Doris came back in at some point and I started crying again and silently wishing harm on her person. As soon as she left, I decided two things – I would go ahead and get an epidural, and I didn’t want Doris anywhere near me for the rest of my labor. David called for the epidural and I begged the nurse to keep Doris away from me and instead send in a doctor.

The epidural was placed right around 12am, in between contractions. It was pretty quick and painless and the numbing started immediately. I still had incredible pain in my tailbone (which I am 99.9% sure I broke when giving birth to Jack), and the anesthesiologist said that the epidural wouldn’t touch that, unfortunately – I just had to get through it. ūüôĀ

The doctor came in to check my progress then. Right as she was saying, “This is probably going to break your bag of waters,” there was a splash. The staff scrambled to change the padding underneath me and I said that I felt like I was going to poop. The doctor looked down, said it was the baby’s head I was actually feeling, and announced to the team that the baby was coming! The staff kicked it into high gear, but the baby wouldn’t wait – his head slid right out, then his shoulders slowed him just enough for the doctor to get in position before he SHOT OUT like a football. I didn’t even get a single push in!

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Desmond Eric

Desmond Eric was born to a room full of chuckling people at 9/2 at 12:43am. He didn’t cry – instead, he looked around and squeaked a bit every now and then. He was 7 lbs, 1 oz, and measured 19″ with a tuft of blonde hair.

We are totally in love.

Truthiness Day 22: Pain in the coccyx

Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.

I wish I hadn’t given birth while semi-sitting/laying down.

By the end of my labor I was exhausted.¬† I hadn’t slept more than 3 hours in the last two days (when it all began).¬† The cervidil- and pitocin-induced contractions were pretty much constant and full force.¬† Those last few hours I couldn’t even open my eyes.¬† My OB broke my water at 9cm and I was up on the bar for that last centimeter while pain gripped my belly and shot down my thighs.¬† I finally had to get on the bed because my legs wouldn’t hold me anymore.¬† The back of the bed was pushed up so I was semi-sitting while pushing.

I only pushed for 40 minutes before Jack was born, but all my weight and the pressure of Jack’s body as he moved through the birth canal fucked up my tailbone big time.¬†¬† I couldn’t sit down for weeks – even the pressure of a pillow or a donut hurt my tailbone.¬† It never got better, despite weeks at the chiropractor.¬† Four years later and I still can’t sit for long periods without pain.¬† That totally sucks when you have a desk job!

It was 40 minutes of pushing…40 minutes on my back.¬† Why didn’t I turn to the side?¬† Or crouch?¬† Anything would have been better…

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Truthiness Day 17: Book Learning

Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.

Before I read The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, I had no idea why in the world anyone would ever want to have a home birth. I only slightly understood the natural birth movement.¬† I was interested in the idea of avoiding an epidural for two simple reasons – the first being that there was no way in hell I was going to sit still while someone stuck a needle in my spine, and the second reason was that at least half of the time, my body just doesn’t react to medications as it should.¬† I suspected that I would go through the trouble of getting an epidural only to wind up with the wrong part of my body numb (this happened to a friend of mine…).

Still, I wasn’t sure what the deal was with avoiding an episiotomy or giving my baby Vitamin K orally rather than by needle.¬† The book provides a ton of research laid out in a way that you can understand.¬† It lets you know what the risks are so that you can decide if the risks outweigh the benefits of a given procedure.¬† This was important because NOT ONCE did any of my medical providers offer me the risk information unless I asked for it.¬† Often I would ask, listen to the explanation, and then go home and do research to determine whether I was given the full scope (not surprisingly, a lot was left out).¬† Interestingly enough, that was at a hippie dippy birthing practice with midwives and homeopathic remedies and such.¬† I don’t think the providers were necessarily trying to keep information from me; I think the reason for withholding information had more to do with trying to keep me relaxed.¬† Still, I am not the type of person to blindly put my trust in anyone, even someone with a medical degree.¬† No matter what they know about the birthing process, they don’t know my body like I do.¬† I think it’s important for providers to work together with their patients for just that reason.

If you are pregnant and haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.¬† You don’t have to read it from start to finish (I surely didn’t) – instead pick the chapters that are pertinent to you.¬† I turned the book often when writing my birth plan, for instance, because that was when many of my questions came up.

*Yes, the link above is an affiliate link.

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Next Time Around

I often think about having a second child.¬† Joe and I talk about it every once in a while.¬† I was on the fence for a long time but I think we both agree that we will probably have another at some point.¬† We might try as early as mid-2009, but it will be highly dependent upon our little family dynamic at that time.¬† Until then, I’ll be rolling this parenting thing around in my mind, analyzing and wondering how things will go with a second child.

In the grand scheme of parenting, birth was not a huge deal for me.¬† Certainly not as big a deal as I thought it was while pregnant, when it was all I could think about.¬† Once Jack was here, my labor and his birth faded quickly with the enormity of having a real live person to take care of.¬† Still, labor and childbirth brought forth a new understanding of my body and my strength as a woman.¬† It was a big event, an experience that was unique in my life, and looking back it feels as if it was a big test that I feel proud to have passed even if I didn’t get a perfect grade.

I learned a lot in those 39.5 hours, and I have learned even more as I’ve reflected upon everything I went through to get Jack into the world.¬† I often wonder how things would have gone if events had occured differently.¬† I read several midwifery blogs and seek out stories of birth at every opportunity.¬† So obviously while I feel that birth was a relatively¬†small event overall, it was still a very important event that left a lasting impression on my mind.¬† The events just weren’t as big as the feelings and thoughts that derived from them.

No matter how my opinions of labor and childbirth change, I¬†will carry some¬†satisfaction of Jack’s birth with me.¬† Not only did I¬†end up with a¬†wonderfully healthy¬†child, but my first birth experience taught me what I will do differently next time:

  • No induction unless there are signs of ill health.¬† While induction was convenient in some ways, it made for a more difficult birth that¬†was harder on my body.¬† By the time I was ready to push I didn’t have the energy to position myself optimally.¬† My tailbone is still not the same.
  • Stay out of the hospital, and birth only with assistants I know and trust.¬† In the hospital, I had¬†one nurse who¬†that messed up my IV and¬†refused to unhook it between doses of antibiotics because she felt it was too much work to¬†flush it, and another nurse who at one point took over care of my son.¬†¬†I want to lessen the¬†chance that¬†other people will adversely affect our family’s experience.
  • Use water for pain relief.¬† The counter-pressure of the shower on my back and belly was amazing pain relief.¬†¬†Unfortunately, I was not able to use this resource once I was strapped¬†to monitoring devices.

I am really looking forward to another opportunity one day to learn even more about myself and life in general.  What about you?  Would you do anything differently next time?