Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Birth Story

It's birth story time!

Warning: this will be long. Very long. I've tried to include every last detail, because it was truly the most amazing experience of my life and I don't ever want to forget a single thing about it. Also, when I think about it, still, almost 8 months later, I just want to shout out every detail from the rooftops. It was THAT amazing.

So Pixie dear arrived Thursday afternoon, May 14, 2009.

It all started a few weeks before Pixie was born, actually. I was having crampy contractions that were starting to feel like early labor. I had them on and off during the day, they picked up in the evening, and then they would go away overnight. Mother's Day weekend (just after my due date) my contractions became regular, coming every 8-10 minutes. We went for a hike that Saturday (May 9th) to help move things along, and my contractions picked up to about 5-6 minutes apart. I thought for sure the baby would come that weekend! The contractions came at regular intervals for 2 days, and then they just stopped. The next few days they went back to irregular. I knew the baby was in a posterior position (just like her big brother), and that can cause a lot of irregular but strong early labor contractions as the mother's body tries to move the baby into a more favorable position for birthing.I met with my midwife that Monday and she checked the baby's position. Baby was very posterior, with her neck distended so that her forehead was pushing against my pubic bone rather than my cervix. Because my midwife's practice won't let a woman go past 41 weeks we scheduled an induction for Friday (which would put me at 41 weeks, 2 days according to my "official due date" but just at my due date according to my adjusted date). I started to feel very anxious because I really didn't want to be induced again. I was induced with Squeak and while his birth was not traumatic it wasn't what I had wanted, and I didn't want a repeat. Santiago and I had actively prepared for a natural, drug-free, intervention-free birth by taking 12 weeks of Bradley Method classes during the pregnancy. I wanted to go into labor on my own, stay at home to labor comfortably, and be at the hospital just long enough to have the baby with our midwife. I didn't want to be at the hospital from the onset of labor, I didn't want to be hooked up to wires and IVs and monitors, I really didn't want the Pitocin or for my waters to be artificially ruptured, and I especially didn't want to be stuck in bed during active labor. I was disappointed because I really wanted to be able to trust my body and to feel myself go into labor without augmentation. However, I felt okay about the induction, and I knew that I would be fine. I was disappointed, but resigned to being induced. One of the things that calmed me was that Santiago gave me a priesthood blessing (confused? See!). In it he promised me that I would be able to have a good birth experience, no matter what happened. After receiving the blessing, even though I thought I would have to be induced, I was hopeful that I could still feel peaceful and happy about how things turned out.

On Wednesday, my sister J called me up and told me about a local restaurant that touts one of its pizzas as a "labor pizza," sending very pregnant women who eat it into labor within 48 hours. I had actually heard about this urban legend a few years ago on the radio, and as I googled it I found a few different anecdotes about women who gave it a try. Most reported that it didn't work, but that it was delicious! I heard of three women who said it worked. Well, I was skeptical and knew it wouldn't work. I had tried all the "old wives' tales" to get labor going, both during Squeaks's pregnancy and this one: fresh pineapple, walking (hiking), bouncing on a ball, sex, spicy foods, nipple stimulation, I had been religiously drinking my red raspberry leaf tea 2-3 times a day for weeks... I did it all, and nothing was working! I knew the pizza wouldn't send me into labor, but, my best friend Aubri was visiting from Texas, and going out for a girls' night of delicious pizza with my sister and my best friend sounded like a great way to spend one of my last evenings before the baby's birth. Squeak stayed home with his Dada and I headed to dinner with Aubri and J. Well, the pizza was delicious (thin crust pizza with chicken, carmelized onions, mushrooms, tons of whole cloves of roasted garlic, topped with fontina cheese and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Drool!), and we had a really fun time together, and then I went home (late!), planning to spend the next day (Thursday) finishing up baby preparations, napping, and just getting ready to be induced Friday.Well, instead, I woke up around 6 or 7 (after going to sleep around 1 am!) feeling yucky in my tummy. I thought it was just all that garlic from the pizza that wasn't settling well. I lied in bed and tried to go back to sleep, but I was just getting more and more uncomfortable. At some point I realized that it was only when my uterus would contract and my stomach would tighten that I felt really sick.

I got out of bed and Squeak and I went about our day. I could feel that my contractions were more intense than they had been before, but they were still coming very eratically: 10 minutes apart, then 9, then 6, then 12, then 4, then 17, and so on... I figured it would just be another day of irregular early labor contractions that would stop by nighttime. However, I also recognized that the contractions definitely felt different, and I had to focus through them. I didn't want to get my hopes up (again!) so I tried not to get too excited. I called Tiago around 8:30 and gave him a heads up that I wanted him to come home after he finished teaching his classes at 10:30. I still didn't think I was actually in labor, but I knew I was having a hard time taking care of Squeak during my contractions and I would need his help. In the meantime, I got in some comfortable clothes and bounced on my birth ball and watched some "Gilmore Girls" on my laptop while Squeak sat next to me (on his hoppy ball!) and watched Curious George on his DVD player. I sat this way for a few hours, working through my contractions, while Squeak played with his toys around me. Tiago came home around 11, and while the intensity of my contractions had definitely picked up, their frequency hadn't. They were still coming very irregularly, with some as close as 7 minutes apart and some as far as 20 minutes apart. Santiago helped me through my contractions, reminding me to drink water, stroking my back, helping keep Squeak out of my way, giving me little snacks, timing the contractions, etc.

We had some lunch and then decided to all go for a walk. We walked to our neighborhood park, where Squeak played on the swings and the playground, and I walked and swang gently, leaning on Santiago or on the playground ladder whenever a contraction hit. After a while we walked home and Tiago put Squeak down for his nap while I went to take a bath. The bath felt good, but I started to get really sleepy, so I got out and was planning to take a nap if I could.

I lied down in bed, but the second I did, I started to get super uncomfortable. My contractions started coming more frequently, and they were very intense and painful when I laid down. I stayed in bed for a few contractions, but it was too uncomfortable and I just had to get up. At this point, my contractions went from very irregularly spaced down to very regular, and they started increasing in frequency very rapidly. In about a half hour, they went from 10-20 minutes apart and eratic down to 2 1/2 minutes apart and very very intense! We had called our doula earlier in the morning to give her a heads up that we might need her today, and we had done the same with my sister C (who would come to watch Squeak when I felt like I was in active labor), so it was at this point that we decided to call C and tell her to head up to our house. Tiago told me we probably needed to go to the hospital now. I didn't believe him (I think I was still in denial that I was in actual labor because I didn't want to get disappointed if it stopped and I ended up having to go through with the induction the next day!) and told him we could just wait until C arrived. Tiago had been timing the contractions, though, and he was emphatic that we needed to go to the hospita. We called my visiting teaching companion, who came over to sit with Squeak (who was napping) until C arrived, and we got into the car to go to the hospital. I remember feeling, as we walked to the car, that I needed to straighten up the house, put away S's toys, put the lunch dishes in the sink, etc. I tried doing all these things between contractions and Tiago literally had to take my hand and lead me to the car so I wouldn't keep cleaning! We called our doula and told her to meet us at the hospital (we had planned on having her help at home, too, but my labor picked up so quickly that there was no time!).

We drove to the hospital, which is luckily only a few miles away. It took us about 6 minutes to get there, and I had 3 or so contractions on the way. By the time we got to the parking lot and went to walk into the hospital, I was really having a hard time with my contractions. I was crying during my contractions and really having to concentrate. We got to the admittance desk in the Women's Center and they said they didn't have our preregistration! So Santiago had to answer a bunch of questions and fill out paperwork. I don't think the nurses/staff believed that my contractions were really coming as frequently as we said they were, because they were taking their sweet time and were very calm (annoyingly calm!) about everything. At around 3:50 or 4:00 p.m. I got in my room, gave a urine sample, got into the gown and they put the fetal monitors on me. I was told I would have to be monitored for 30 minutes, during which time I had to be in bed, then have a 40 minute break when I could get up and move around, then another 30 minutes on the monitor, etc. I wanted to cry when they told me this (I may have, actually. I can't remember!). Lying down or sitting was the worst thing for my contractions. I wanted to be up standing, swaying, leaning on Santiago, or kneeling over the birth ball. Well, they hooked me up and I stayed in bed for about 10 minutes. After that, I just couldn't do it anymore! Luckily, we had a great nurse who was very understanding of my desires. She said it was fine for me to get up. Even though they wouldn't get a great reading on the baby's status for the next 20 minutes, the first 10 minutes was fine and baby looked good and strong and healthy.

What a relief to get out of bed! I worked through some more contractions, but they were getting much stronger. I started to feel shakey and goose-bumpy and started doubting if I could do it. I was getting nauseous with every contraction. In other words, I was showing all the classic signs of transition, which means I was almost fully dilated and would be getting ready to push soon enough! Our Bradley class preparation really helped get me through this phase. With each contraction that I thought, "I can't do another one of these," I just reminded myself that it was normal to think that, that it meant I was really close to holding my baby in my arms, and that I didn't need to think about the next contraction, but I just had to get through this one, and then I could rest for a (teensy) bit. I think it was at this point that the nurses started to believe how close I was to delivering! They got me in bed to check my cervix (I had only had one cervical check all pregnancy, and it was that Monday at my midwife appointment. I was dilated 2-3 centimeters and effaced about 70%.), which they were surprised to see was 8 centimeters dilated! At this point they decided to put in my heparin lock (which I opted for instead of an IV)! I sat in bed and almost immediately started throwing up. I think they finally realized I was in transition! They finished putting in the Hep. Lock - after failing to get it in near my wrist, they finally got it in my hand (honestly, postpartum, my wrist was one of my most tender areas! It was swollen and bruised and it hurt for quite awhile afterward!) - and I finished throwing up! They finally called my midwife (seriously, they must really have not believed us when we arrived saying that contractions were lasting about 75 seconds, with 75 seconds of rest in between!).

I got up to kneel over the birth ball, and when I got in this position, I just felt like I wanted to push. There was so much pressure that I just couldn't breathe through the contractions anymore. I had to do something active! I heard my midwife rushing in, not yet dressed in her gown, telling me to try to wait. Then, when the contraction had passed, the nurses rushed over and helped me get into bed, because I was tired and couldn't hold myself up anymore. My legs felt sore and tired already, so I sat up in bed and James helped me hold my knees to my chest. My midwife was rushing to get everything ready when the next contraction hit. I just couldn't NOT push. My body's reflexes took over and I was pushing the baby out, even while my midwife begged me to try not to so she could help apply pressure to my perineum to prevent tearing. It was crazy and amazing to feel that I had no control over it! I just HAD to push. Pushing was one of the most satisfying parts of labor and also one of the most painful. It was a terrible burning sensation that I almost couldn't bear, but at the same time, it made my contractions feel so much better to push through them. I remember just screaming "It burns!" but at the same time helpless to stop the burning, because my body was pushing whether I wanted it to or not. Well, I didn't push for more than a few minutes before she was out! Her shoulders were the hardest part because I was exhausted and sore from pushing out her head, but after her head and shoulders were out the rest of her body just kind of slid out. I couldn't believe when I looked down and saw my baby's entire body! It had all happened so fast and it was so surreal to know that I had done it!

And finding out that she was a girl was crazy! My midwife didn't even look but said, "Oh, he's a big one" right at the exact moment that I was looking at what I though were girly bits (really confused me!)! Tiago asked if it was a boy, and I remember saying, "I think it's a girl! It's a girl, isn't it?" I couldn't believe it! I had a feeling that she would be a girl, but I didn't want to get my mind set on it one way or another, so I had spent my entire pregnancy convincing myself that she was probably a boy, because I thought she was a girl and I couldn't possibly be right about it! ;)Born at 4:44 pm, about 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital! I got to hold her right on my chest. She looked so perfect. My water broke right as I was pushing out her head (how cool would it have been if it had waited just a second to break, and she could have been born in the caul? I would have loved to see that!), so she was wet but clean. She had swallowed a lot of fluid right as my waters broke so the nurses had to suction quite a bit of fluid out of her, but other than that she was perfect. I was so in awe of her. She was healthy and beautiful, and all mine!

C (my sister) brought Squeak up to the hospital to meet Pixie shortly after. Together my children melt my heart!

I did it! I did it with no drugs, no interventions, no tearing. I didn't even take Tylenol for postpartum soreness! I felt so good. I know that a lot of women do it, but I felt (and still feel) so empowered that I was able to give birth naturally without medication. I am amazed at what my body can do. I am still so in awe when I think about how my body worked with my baby's body to birth in a natural and efficient way. My body was amazing in working to get Pixie into the optimal position to be birthed, and Pixie was amazing in working to get herself there. Santiago was an amazing support to me during my labor. I think it made a lot of difference that we were able to be at home for most of the time. It was comfortable and peaceful and calm, and it was so nice to be able to be together as a family during that time. There was no stress about what might go wrong and no worries about hospital policies. It was just so relaxed. I am still so thrilled with Pixie's labor and delivery.

I felt excellent after, too. I was a little sore from pushing but it was nothing like my recovery last time (I had a 3rd degree tear and an episiotomy with Squeak). It mostly just stung when I would pee... My legs were sore in places they've never been sore before! I have to say the worst postpartum pain this time around were the "afterpains" of my uterus contracting to get back to its normal size. I didn't feel these at all with Squeak, but I definitely felt them this time. They were not horrible, but I felt very menstrual-crampy and my lower back ached. In general, though, I felt so good.

I most of all just feel so grateful, even still. I feel so grateful that I was able to have the birth I so desperately wanted. I feel so grateful to have my perfect little family. I love my children more than life itself. I worried about how I would love another person as much as I love Squeak, how I would possibly think another baby could be as cute as Squeak, but now here I am with another baby and I love her every bit as much as I love my Squeak. She is every bit as cute and sweet and dear to me as he is. I feel grateful and blessed beyond measure.


Heatherlady said...

What a really great story! Everytime I read a natural birth story I am in awe of how amazing the whole process is. Congrats!

Cat said...

Thank you! :)

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