Saturday, September 11, 2010
!Break! - Elyana Ruth's LONG Birth Story
I know this is about 19 months overdue in its long form, but my dear friend Lisi posted an awesome article on why (unmedicated) women don't need to wait until they're dilated to a 10 until they push. I commented on it over on Facebook, and I realized my birth story in its full form was never published. For what it's worth, if you have 10 minutes and a lovely cup of hot tea or coffee, curl up and enjoy the listen. It's riveting, to me, and I adore telling the story. :) I don't know why I did not publish it on here before when I had it typed up already!
Elyana Ruth Birth Story
Sunday, January 18th I was woken up at 5:30am out of a slumber to some intense pains. I realized these as contractions. After having the day of contractions on Friday the 9th, I wasn’t ready to say “This is it.” But I did feel that maybe it would turn into the events leading up to her birth.
I got in the bath to try to alleviate the pains, and I figured it could be my last good chance to get clean before the birth, if this was my labor beginning. I took my time, thinking maybe we’d even be able to go to church. They were over 5 minutes apart, lasting about 30 seconds long. Long enough to keep me from trying to sleep anymore! I painted my toenails and fingernails too – figuring it’d be nice to have them pretty!
Jonathan got up at 7 when the alarm rang. I told him what was up, and he was excited, but cautious as I was. We went to have breakfast together after his shower, and chill on the couches while I went through contractions (this was, by choice, the last I ate until after Elyana was born). About 8:15 I told him I didn’t think I should go to church, as the contractions were intense enough I figured I’d make a scene sitting there. So we decided to have our own quiet time together. Jonathan read from the first 8 verses of the Sermon on the Mount, and we talked about them. He prayed, then I did, but I didn’t make it very far before a contraction hit and I had to stop.
We wanted to run to Sam’s Club in Macon to buy the flooring for the sunroom. I figured it was a good idea, because it would burn a few hours. We left around 10 or 11 and went there. I was quite the site: I had to squat down in the aisles or outside and breathe through my contractions! Jonathan asked if I wanted to go anywhere else, and I figured Starbucks was a good choice, because I could get an Izze juice and again, kill some time. We played checkers together in there and sat on comfy chairs, and it was a really nice time together. (I won!) But that’s all I could take. We got home near noon, thinking we had an hour until the Eagles vs Cardinals game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on until 3, and I don’t remember much of what happened until then. I took a bath and the contractions were definitely strong and intense, but nothing was convincing enough to go to the hospital. I learned from Jonathan that the Sunday “girls night out” at Life Group was suppose to be a surprise baby shower for me! I called Kristy and talked some, she was very understanding and encouraging.
I watched the game some, with the electric blanket on me that helped some. I tried standing, squatting, laying down for contractions, but never really found one perfect way to handle them. Jonathan would see me have one, and coach me with relaxing and breathing. I tended to want to hold my breath through them, so I needed the reminder. I never really felt that the relaxing the Bradley book talks about so much could be done, especially since lying through contractions hurt a lot. But I do know that not tensing up was good. I did a little visualization, but did not need that as much. I was in and out of the bath all afternoon. The warm water did help.
We took a walk out back around 5 for maybe 30-45 minutes. It was pretty uncomfortable, walking so much over uneven terrain, but again a good change of scenery. No one tells you that labor can be so boring. Especially at the beginning, the contractions are so far apart, that all you have to do between them is wait!
After that, back inside there was more waiting and contracting. I did a little laundry, we tidied up the house some, and we debated on whether it was time to go in. This was so hard! I wanted to go in, to hear how dilated I was and how the baby was doing. But I knew it was a commitment to drive 30 minutes and maybe not be ready. A few times I told Jonathan I think I was ready, and he wasn’t sure, thought we should wait. I knew he was probably right, but I was frustrated just staying at home. I guess I was thinking if we went to the hospital and acted like this was serious, it would be (silly, I know). By 8:15ish we did decide to go in. We loaded the car up and headed out. We’d been timing them for ½ an hour, and they were coming around every 3 minutes lasting 65-75 seconds long. But just as we left the house, I had 5 minutes go between contractions! It was maddening! Jonathan said it wasn’t time, and suggested we head to Sonic instead. I agreed, and was discouraged, but glad for a change of pace. We pulled in, and while sitting there, I had 3 contractions all less than 2 minutes apart, lasting about 65 seconds long. It was time to go I guess!
We headed to Macon; I don’t remember the drive much at all. Sitting like that was so uncomfortable! Jonathan almost missed our exit. I rested/closed my eyes often between contractions. I do remember checking into OB assessment and being in a lot of pain while waiting for a room and trying to fill out paperwork! I recall scribbling my name, almost just putting an “x” down for brevity! I had been leaking a little, what I hoped was my water. They checked me for that, but it wasn’t amniotic fluid. They put me on a monitor for a while (20 minutes? 30?) and saw the contractions, and checked me for dilation (they said I was a 5, but could stretch to a 6), and agreed I should be checked in. We got a L&D room about 20 minutes after that.
The room was big enough and seemed just fine. A doctor was on call who I didn’t know. They said they’d try calling Jeri (my midwife), but I didn’t expect her to answer (she didn’t), knowing she’d taken all MLK weekend off. I showed the nurse my birth plan, and she said it looked like they could accommodate it. I got on my grey Victoria’s Secret sleep-shirt to labor in, and was glad it was so comfy, but I was cold in there! The whole night was very long. My contractions were too close together and painful to sleep through, though Jonathan was very attentive. We got the hang of contracting and I did not need much coaching during the night. Jonathan had Dirty Jobs, Beverley Hillbillies, South Park and various other programs on. While I wasn’t interested in them, the alternative (silence and him being totally bored) wasn’t attractive either. (I would plan better next time!) I tried to nap (sitting upright) for the 60-90 seconds between contractions, and he tried to get cat-naps on the couch. It was hard feeling so behind on sleep from the early morning. I would go on the fetal monitors 20 minutes on, one hour off. Baby Girl was fine. They put a hep-loc on my right hand in case I needed it for IV, and that was definitely a discomfort I wish I hadn’t had. They agreed I could stay hydrated myself, instead of an IV, which was wonderful! (Not sure I could have effectively labored with an IV!!!) I sipped water all night. The monitoring got more and more of an extreme discomfort, because I had to stay lying/sitting in bed at somewhat of an angle (about 45 degrees). The contractions were best handled squatting, sitting upright on my legs, or standing, but not laying down!
I also will say, that since Jonathan woke up that morning, in my opinion, Jonathan and I were now working together as a wholly unified team. My contractions were more intense, I was weary, and I was saying things to him like, “Maybe I do just need to get some oral/systemic pain relief, I’m so tired, and this is taking so long.” I even asked him if maybe we should just go home, since this wasn’t going anywhere (I had been checked sometime in the night and had only dilated a centimeter.) Jonathan would remind me why I wanted an unmedicated birth (for the baby’s sake and mine), and he would remind me I was speaking out of weariness and would not want him to give in. I remember him saying, “We’re not going to discuss this while you’re contracting.” So wise. He encouraged me that I was doing well, and the baby was good, and she was getting here. He was strong when I was not!
Early that morning, a new nurse came on call, who I just loved. Audrey had attended unmedicated births before, and was very happy to be with me. She was a cheerful face. The night nurse was fine, but all she did was monitor me for 20 minutes, and leave, so I didn’t mind seeing her go. Audrey would ask what I needed (I’d tell her nothing) and suggest things like, “Would you like a rag for your face? Would you like more ice in your water?” It helped so much not to have to direct anyone or think of anything! They would check on me what seemed like every half hour, and then monitor baby and me for 20 minutes on, one hour off. They really respected the privacy and little serene “place” Jonathan and I had. They would quietly ask how I was, and then leave when we told them we were fine. Jonathan was by my side most every contraction; I was physically leaning on him at times. He was working with me. When anyone would come in the room, I would immediately feel self-conscious about really “feeling” my contractions and working with them. I felt like they were cut-short of “working” several times when someone would enter the room, or be present, during a contraction. I truly felt like I could only “be myself” and really work through them with only Jonathan present. He is, after all, My Self, My Half, My Soul-Mate. I felt like we had an oasis of Togetherness - just Us – that was almost seen or understood by the nurses. I felt she would peek her head in, ask if I was ok, and quietly retreat, leaving us in charge. I really appreciate this.
Another doctor (Dr. Durso, from my practice) came on call around 7 or 8am and came by to see me. He checked and said I was dilated 7cm maybe 8. So since checking in until now (about 11 hours), knowing I had only dilated 2 cm was a bit discouraging. The doctor was positive about my progress, said he was going to go do a c-section, and he’d check on me after it. I think it was at this point I turned to Jonathan and said, “I’m a Putterer, just like the Bradley book says (Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way). That’s me.” (Little did I know my local good friend and natural childbirth advocate Kristy was saying the same thing to her husband as she got texts of my progress.)
I labored, he came by again, he did another c-section, came by in another hour. Said I was an 8, maybe 9. Thought I’d be ready after his next c-section. Around 12 I felt the urge to push. I didn’t know if I was fully dilated yet, so I knew I shouldn’t push. But it is a very hard urge to not give in to! I told Jonathan, and when the nurses came by, told them. They said to try not to push until the doctor checked if I was ready. He came by maybe 12:30 and said I was ready to push (so dilated to a 10 I guess, I never heard those words and I still wonder about it!). At this point, my water hadn’t broken, and all morning he’d been asking if I wanted it broken. I was tired, and asked if it would speed things up. He said it could, and I was pretty tired from 31 hours of contractions, so I was all up for it. He broke my water, and honestly it was like a relief! It was as if a pressure was taken off. He then told me he’d go do a c-section, and check back. At this point, they wanted me monitored continually. That seemed ok for the pushing, since I’d been pushing in a squatting position sitting on the bed anyway, and I wanted to know the baby was ok. I pushed for about an hour. Jonathan told me I was fighting the pushing. I know I was. It was really painful, and a hard muscle-sensation to master. I also had read many women like to vocalize during pushing, so Jonathan tried to coach me to do a low growl/moan, but that just felt put-on and did not feel like it helped. I also was having maybe 30 second pushing contractions, and around 15 seconds in, I’d just stop pushing and writhe around. In other words, I wasn’t letting them work much. The baby’s station had been a -1 when I started pushing. In the meantime the nurses had been coaching me a little, but they hadn’t stated that’s what they were doing, so I was just oblivious to them during pushing. They did think I was close, so they set up the whole “sterile” area/table with all the birthing instruments, gowns, etc, for them and the doctor.
Around 1:30 or 2:00 the doctor showed up with his game face on! Let me just say, he was all dressed up with no place to go! They had me at a 45 degree laying angle (not great for pushing). He watched me push for a bit, and then told me that he could try using the vacuum to get the baby out while I pushed, since it was taking so long and I seemed to be struggling (his view, implied). I was tired and wanted help at this point, so I agreed. I was definitely NOT ready, because when he just tried to get the vacuum in, while I was contracting, and nearly backed up off the bed, it hurt so much. I think I said something like, “I can’t. Stop!” He was ticked off. He then (irritated) told me that some babies are too big to come out, and this could be the case. (Even though, ironically, just 3 days before, the doctors were trying to use the fact that the ultrasound showed her small and I was measuring 4 weeks behind to tell me I should induce soon! *rolls eyes*) I told him, “I just think I need more time.” He challenged, “How much?” I did not answer, because I did not want the clock to be used against me, and I just did not know what my body would need! He said, “You can’t just hope this baby out!” He said I was fighting the pain and now the baby was in a 0 station (so she’d regressed). He said that to take the pain away, they could give me something, but that then it could numb me so much I might need pitocin to ramp up the contractions. Then, if that made things get out of control, I might just need a c-section. Jonathan and I looked at each other, dumbfounded. Why were we talking about such drastic measures? I felt a bit cornered, but I knew anything he said wasn’t what I wanted. I felt he was frustrated with me, even though I was just handing things they way I could, NOT his way! Jonathan asked him, “Is the baby in trouble or distress?” He said, “Oh no, she’s doing great. The contractions aren’t bothering her one bit.” Jonathan said, “Well, I’m a pilot, and when you’re flying you don’t talk about implementing emergency procedures when there’s no emergency.” (something like that) He said, “We’re just going to keep on what we’ve been doing.” The doctor then turned heel and strided out, spitting over his shoulder to the nurses, “(Dr) Barnes is on call,”
We were glad to be rid of him!!! I then realized that I really did need to get serious about this pushing, and pleaded if the nurses could help me. Audrey (and a nurse with her who was learning) told me she could. She said she would count to 10 three times (convenient since my contractions were 30 seconds long), and that I should breathe in the first few seconds and then just push as intensely as I could until 10, then repeat, then repeat again until the contraction was over, and to just tell her when one was coming, and when it was over (so they wouldn’t keep counting if I was done). This was probably 2:45 (I have no idea really, perhaps 3:00). I was pushing in a squatting position on the bed. It worked very well, although I definitely felt like I’d push, and then as soon as the push was over, the baby would “slip back”. I knew I’d read that in the Bradley book, it was sometimes 1 step forward, 2 steps back. It just felt like if I could have a contraction, and really hold it, I would get her out. But I could feel that if I pushed beyond when a contraction had ended, it did nothing! I felt that. I knew I’d just need them close enough together, or the baby far enough down that I could not disengage the pushing, that the birth canal and her would take over and cause me to just push her out.
At some point (maybe 4:00) they called Dr. Barnes at the office and told him to head over, because I was giving birth. I heard him ask who was delivering, and not know who I was (haha). (I was Jeri’s patient, but the office did require you see the two OBs at least once during your prenatals. I’d seen him at least 4 times.) I guess, because of the earlier event, I did not think calling a doctor over was really a sure sign I was ready to deliver. He came over quickly, and recognized me. I was in maybe a 75 degree angle on the bed, it seemed ok. He chatted a little, and I pushed. I don’t remember what he said, but he did offer to use the vacuum, saying it could help. I really had begun to feel like I couldn’t just push her head out, and I was exhausted, so I agreed to this help. Fortunately, I was much readier than before, and he waited until her head was close to crowning (or crowning, I don’t know!), and put it on. I never felt it go on (again, so much different than earlier). I remember Audrey telling him I did not want an episiotomy, and I agreed out loud. I think they told me to try on the next contraction, so when it started, I just pushed with everything I me, I held the push and started to feel a baby (it felt huge) coming out of my body! It required a lot of sustaining that push, and at this point, the adrenaline took over and just feeling my baby come out and knowing This Was It. It all happened so fast. I remember Jonathan telling me, “I see her!” And then there she was. Our Elyana Ruth. 4:17pm. They handed her to me, just like I asked, and I held her while the cord was pulsing. I then was still contracting a bit, and handed her off to Jonathan, as I felt distracted. They cut the cord in a few minutes (after it stopped pulsing, just like I asked), and then the doctor gently tugged on the cord to get the placenta out. I had in my birth plan I didn’t want this, but at the time, I really just wanted it out. It felt like it was just in there, and I wanted to feel empty/relieved of it. It came out a few minutes later, and as I looked at it, I said, “Wow, gross!” The doctor laughed. I guess I just never realized how bloody it would be. I felt so happy and jovial; I was just talking away with him while Jonathan held the baby and they weighed her (7lb 13 oz) and did the APGAR. The doctor did tell me I had a 2nd degree tear, and I said I was ok with that. He sewed me up, and I didn’t care about the tiny pain one bit!
Then, oh joy of joys, a few minutes after birth, Jonathan brought me little Elyana Ruth again! She was swaddled in a blanket, with a little hat on her head. She had big, beautiful eyes, was contentedly looking around, and she was mine! I was instantly in love. I brought her to me to breastfeed, and she latched on almost immediately. I just lay there, her in my arms, overwhelmed at the joy and love and preciousness of this life! I couldn’t believe it, her was my sweet baby, being comforted at my skin, being nourished by me. I was overwhelmed. She was maybe 10 minutes old, and the nurses told me they would want to take her to the nursery for the Vitamin K shot and a little observation under the heat lamps, around an hour old. So I nursed her for 20 minutes on each side, and just held that precious bundle. They came back in, and told me it had been an hour (it went so quick!). I asked couldn’t I it wait a little longer, but they said it was preferred now. I knew I just didn’t want her to leave me, but Jonathan took her and stayed with her the whole time, which was not long (15 minutes?). When I got her back, I held her for hours, and just wondered in amazement over our child. I was on a high the entire night, so exhilarated, not going to bed until 11pm (so 42 hours awake), with her right next to me, utterly taken with our baby. I was so in love! I held on to that day, basking in all we had worked for and been given. Our Elyana Ruth.