Sunday, October 1, 2006
born on her due date - the birth story in excruciating detail
I wrote this story the day we arrived home from the hospital so that I wouldn't forget it. I had been mostly awake for about four days so the writing is a bit frenzied and inarticulate. Take it then as you will...
Originally we thought she would be born on the third of October even though she was due on the first. I think I just wanted this because my mom and dad were planning to be here on the third. As my month off of work drew out though, we started to expect her earlier. I don’t know if we just really wanted her to come or if I genuinely sensed that she was on her way. Little things changed…subtle things about the way I felt.
Ryan had planned two weeks off of work beginning on Sunday, but that whole week I think he expected her to come too. He called me a couple of times a day every day from work the few days before she was born. Finally on Thursday, his co-workers sent him home. So he was with me on Thursday…nothing happened…a few cramps…and Friday…more cramps. By Saturday morning though, something more started. I woke at about 5am to more intense pressure and a little bit of pain. We were up for about an hour and Ryan put our bags in the car, so sure was he that the moment had come. We laid back down in bed though and fell asleep until about 9am. The pressure and cramp feeling came back and was stronger then but didn’t seem to be coming at any kind of regular interval. We took a walk and the feelings were random. We lay down again. I had the stop watch and started timing what began to seem like real contractions that were about 30 to 45 seconds and regularly about 7 minutes apart. I got in the bath though and they became further apart and irregular again. I thought we should just do regular stuff so I cleaned up the house a bit and we kept timing. When I would lay down they would get regular…less so when I moved. We called our doctor's office. It was a Saturday and she was not in so we spoke to the on call doctor (who ultimately delivered our baby but whose name I still can’t remember…Dr. O’ something). She seemed to think I might be in false labor and suggested that we walk around and do things and see if regularity and intensity continued.
We went for a walk around the block with Ryan timing contractions on our little blue stop watch. I couldn’t walk very fast and it took us about 25 minutes just to walk around the block. The contractions were coming about every 3 to 5 minutes and were about 45 to 60 seconds long. They were uncomfortable but (little did I know) nothing compared with what was to come. Ryan decided this was close enough and we decided to drive to the hospital. I could easily talk between the contractions and was smiling and talkative when they weren’t happening. It took us about 20 minutes or so to get to the hospital. We parked and walked to the main entrance where the reception person escorted us with a wheel chair up to the maternity ward. I just walked as sitting seemed like an uncomfortable option. At maternity reception the nurses started to ask us some questions which I was able to answer except during the contractions. It seems they didn’t have my chart from our doctor but they walked us down to room 580 to check me out.
The nurse had me put on a gown but she seemed to think that we had come too early because I was smiling and happy between contractions and hadn’t really been laboring very long at home. It seemed at that point like they were going to have us go home but she wanted to check with the doctor first. She left us in the room and the contractions got stronger. Also, I threw up and started to shake quite a lot. She checked my dilation after a bit (I think we had gotten to the hospital at around 3:30 and I believe at around 5pm I was still only the one centimeter dilated that I had been a week ago at our last OB visit). Because the intensity of what I felt seemed further along though, she gave us the option of walking around a bit for a few hours instead of going home. Actually, once she spoke to the doctor, they had decided we should stay (because I had thrown up several times) and that I should begin the antibiotic IV I was supposed to get because of my positive strep B infection result. Two nurses came in and began the IV (after popping one vein). At about this time, I think I started to lose track of time passing in the normal way. I was concentrating on breathing and was feeling strong contractions. Ryan tells me a couple of hours passed before the nurses suggested I try the tub for relief and I think they also thought it would help me relax and open me up. I think they thought I was going to be there for a long time. I got in the bath then and Ryan sat in the room and timed on our stop watch…assuring me when they were subsiding and relief was coming.
At around 7:30 (the shift change), the doctor came and sat in the bathroom asking me questions and telling me about my options. She was talking about drugs for sleeping and something else between the contractions. I told her I really didn’t want any drugs and told here how I acted adversely to them but I was getting the impression that we had really come to early…that this was just the beginning and the staff was trying to think of ways to help us along. I don’t know how long I had been in the tub. Because I didn’t want the medication the doctor suggested checking my dilation so she could give me a better assessment of why and when the drugs might be an option (but she wasn’t pushing them….just wanted me to be aware I think).
Luckily, I was about 3 centimeters (that she stretched to 4) at that point so she left us to continue as we wished. The nurses put a monitor on me for another 20 minutes or so and everything was fine so we went back to the tub. Ryan tells me we were there for another hour and a half or two hours. I felt alternately hot and very cold and my back started to hurt so we got out of the tub. I don’t remember much. I would close my eyes in there and just relax. I think I actually fell asleep between contractions and the pain was more bearable if I had my eyes closed for some reason. Eventually my back hurt so much that I wanted out though.
Back on the bed I said to Ryan that I wasn’t sure I could do this for much longer. I think I was still thinking that there was a long way to go. I asked him how much longer he thought it would be. Because if it would be many more hours, I was thinking I might ask for some relief. He said he thought it would only be two hours more. He seemed sure so I said okay and sat on the bed mostly with my eyes closed and him helping me with breathing through every contraction. My face was numb from the breathing (hyperventilating) and my nose burned from the breathing as well. It was getting very hard to follow the breathing because of this so I went back to longer breaths and moaning because it felt good to have the vibration in my chest. I heard him breathing but couldn’t match his coaching. I remember him telling me when the pain was about to come and when it would start to go away and he was always right so I felt really reassured. I thought little phrases and visualized things from all the reading every now and again but mostly my mind seemed blank and full of breathing. I remember looking at the flowers Erika and Erin had brought and visualizing opening up like a flower. I remember thinking that...“you’re going to be huge” and I think I mooed a couple of times. (Yes mooed. Everyone has their comforts.) In the bed though, my tailbone hurt in addition to everything else. It made it hard to maneuver whenever the nurse came to check me. I don’t know when, maybe right after I got out of the tub, she had measured again and I was at, I think, 7 centimeters. I had wanted to walk around or squat or do something other than sit on the bed but my legs were so shaky that I didn’t think I could. I remember being asked by Ryan and the nurse and saying something like I didn’t think it was possible to stand. I did start to think though that the position I was in was preventing the baby from being able to descend easily because there was so much pressure on my bottom. I tried to sit on the edge of the bed and hung on Ryan a little bit but it was too difficult. I sat up in bed then with my left leg over the edge and my right folded on the bed. Ryan came and stood next to me and leaning into him was such an incredible comfort and relief. For the first time since they began, the contractions got a little bit easier when I could press into the warmth of him and feel my body stop shaking. For a few of them it began to feel manageable again but then quickly, the intensity increased and the pain was almost unbearable. I couldn’t do the breathing and I think my moans were turning to screams. I couldn’t have said how long contractions were or how far apart they were but Ryan told me later that they were a minute or longer and only 45 seconds apart. During them, the pressure was so great that I would put my fists into the bed and raise my body up off the bed to relieve the feeling of pressure. Ryan told me to grab his hand which sometimes I could do but I mostly felt like I really needed to get my bottom away from the bed. I remember the nurse had said something about the baby descending and I thought of her and what a difficult time she was having. I was visualizing here moving down the canal and how this was all for her…and wondered how could I help her.
In a really strong contraction I felt this urge to push and wasn’t sure what to do. Another one came even stronger and I couldn’t resist pushing some. When that contraction ended I asked Ryan to call the nurse and tell her I felt like I needed to push. She came and checked me again. There was quite a lot of bloody show and she said I was ready to push. I was actually kind of surprised. I remember asking her if the baby was ready for that. Because she had given me this permission, it seemed like everything changed. It was such a relief to push. I kept thinking though that I had missed something. I don’t know how to explain that. I think I hadn’t thought of the pushing part before. There may have been a few contractions before she told the nurse to call for the doctor. I don’t know. I remember hearing her say that the doctor had said that she wanted to be called when the baby was crowning but the nurse thought she should come right away because things were moving so fast. Was this the point at which I moved to the end of the bed and hung on Ryan? I’m not sure. During the pushing I was no longer doing the breathing. I would just inhale and the moan would immediately turn into a scream which felt really good (but was terrifying Ryan I later found out). At some point I opened my eyes and there were all these people in the room with all this extra equipment. There was a mirror and a bright light and the doctor was there and a bunch of nurses. They said they could see the baby’s head and moved the mirror so I could see. I felt so…I don’t know…elated and calm between the contractions even though during I would scream so loud. The doctor kept telling me to push so I just did as told. Something in my mind seemed still to be telling me that I had missed something. I think I just hadn’t thought about this stage of the process very much. It was weird that it was happening so... all of a sudden. I was pushing as hard as I could when the contractions came and then they would stop but I was still being told to push. I tried to push on my own but without the contraction, it seemed nothing was happening. The doctor told me that my screaming would be better directed if I kept it inside and used that energy to help get the baby out. I tried but still think I made quite a bit of noise.
There was something about them not being able to tell the difference between the baby’s heartbeat and my heartbeat…they put a monitor on my finger but I guess that didn’t work so they put an internal monitor on the baby’s head. Apparently the bag of waters had not yet broken so they had to do that before putting on the monitor. I guess all the water though was being blocked by the head so nothing “gushed” out when they broke it. I went through some more contractions (or maybe just one?) and the doctor was concerned about the baby’s heart rate dropping in between the contractions. She put an oxygen mask on me and thought that might help but really wanted to get the baby out at that point. She thought the cord might be wrapped around her neck and that might be what caused to drop in heart rate. She said she was going to use the vacuum extractor on the next contraction and I said no. She told me that I’d have to push harder then because it was getting to be really important that the baby come out soon because of her heart rate changes. We did two more contractions that way and then she said she’d do an episiotomy and that I would have to help and push really, really hard. So I pushed out the baby’s head…then her body was an easy push.
I looked up at Ryan some time about now. He was standing on my left and holding my hand. I said, “You look terrified. Are you okay?” He said he was fine. (Turns out he wasn’t. He thought I was going to die. He said later that he kept thinking that if anyone ever asked him about natural childbirth versus epidural he would say—epidural absolutely. He hated to see me go through that much pain.)
They put the baby on my stomach after they had just wiped her off a little bit and placed warm blankets over both of us. I was just smiling and staring at her and it seemed so strange. I was…I don’t know…entranced…I couldn’t look away from her…here was this new person and, I don’t know, she didn’t look like me and for some reason that seemed very odd at the time. I held her while the doctor stitched me up and I birthed the placenta which was not difficult at all.
What was painful and I hadn’t read about and no one had told me was that after the doctor had finished stitching, the nurse did some pressing on my tummy to get any blood pushed out of my uterus. It was incredibly painful and at one point I tried to push her hand away.
The baby was still on my chest though and she was making not a crying noise but a strange kind of coughing sound. This seemed to concern the nurses and they took her and tried to better clear her lungs. They had her under the heat lamp and put a tube down her throat. I didn’t feel too concerned about this because no one seemed to be panicking. I thought they would just fix it. They gave her back to us for a few minutes and hoped they would hear her make a few good loud cries. She did so a few times but they called the baby nurses back anyway. (Ryan later said this frightened him as well.) She was fine though after they took her the second time and Ryan and I just held her and looked at her while the nurses cleaned up the room. Eventually they left us alone for a short while and we just looked at her, at each other and I felt so much in love with them both.
The nurse came back and I had to pee. I was still shaking but went to the bathroom and was even able to step into the shower to clean off.
When I got back into the room the bed was clean and the baby had had her first bath with daddy’s help. I took some pictures and felt totally fine walking around once I had on a sweater. After her bath we got back into the bed. Warm and clean. A family.
Three is the magic number…