Monday, July 8, 2013

Our Birth Story

It has been a year and a half since I last posted to this blog. I have missed it, but at the same time, I've rarely had time to think about how much I missed it. Since my last post, we moved, I started a new job, had a baby and then made the HUGE decision to stay home with our precious peanut. Needless to say, there has not been a lot of extra time for me to spend blogging. I am hoping to get back to posting regularly... about the food we're eating, the projects I am working on, and most likely, a lot of baby and family related ramblings.

I would like to jump back in with a post about the birth of our baby. There is something so special about a birth story. Every one is different. Every one so sacred to the family to whom it belongs. When I tell people I was lighting candles and drawing a bath in between contractions at 1:00am all while my husband snoozed away, the response is usually, "what? why?"

So with that, I should really start at the very beginning when I was about 4 months pregnant. I somehow got it into my head that I wanted to have a natural childbirth, that is, without any pain medication. I don't know if it was the epidural horror story I heard from a co-worker or just the hippie in me coming out to play. Either way, I really felt in my heart that I could have my baby without drugs. Even my doctor got excited for me when I mentioned it to her. She had both of her daughters without drugs and told me that for her it was like an endurance sport (she used to cycle competitively) and since I have participated in both swimming and running endurance events, I could totally relate to that! So I was starting to really think I could do this, but I also knew I would need some coaching. After a few Google searches, we found a place called Harmony Birth in Campbell, CA who offered several different types of classes to prepare you- mentally, physically and emotionally- for bringing a child into this world sans drugs. We signed up for their class called Birthing Naturally, which is based upon the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth. I may do another post on the class and what I learned in my own journey because there is sooooo much to tell. I will say that what we were taught in that class was absolutely necessary in preparing us (my husband included) for what was to come. In all sincerity, after the class was over, I knew that if it came down to it- if there was an emergency or some crazy catastrophic disaster happened- I could deliver my baby without assistance or intervention from anyone. Like side of the road / back of a taxi / on the bathroom flood action. Really. And that is a lot of what The Bradley Method and other natural child birth advocates like Ina May Gaskin teach you- that the process of giving birth is natural, intuitive and can be accomplished by any woman with very little help. Anyone can do it. You just have to prepare yourself.

Our due date was 12/31/12, but I had a feeling she would be a few days late. I was feeling good so we went to an New Year's Eve party at a friend’s house. Here I am on my due date:

One of the women at the party was telling me a story about how she was leaking amniotic fluid when pregnant with her daughter. She went in for a routine check up and as an afterthought mentioned it to her doctor. She was tested on the spot and had to be induced way before her due date. They hadn't even packed their hospital bags, much less brought them to the appointment. I had periodically been experiencing some leaking fluid, and after hearing her story, I was starting to get a little paranoid, so on January 2nd, we went in to L&D to have it checked. The test strip they use came back negative for amniotic fluid, but as I was hooked up to external fetal monitoring, the nurse told me I was having some contractions. I was feeling something but I didn’t know that those were contractions; this was my first baby after all. I had been feeling little pains for a few days (and really, all throughout my pregnancy I had weird little twinges so I thought those pains were just normal pregnancy happenings). I took a mental note of what a contraction felt like and we were discharged from L&D. I felt GREAT relief that it was not amniotic fluid as I did not want to be induced. I was very concerned that induction would lead to pain medication and thus the snowball effect of medical intervention. It was bad enough that I was GBS positive and would need an IV for antibiotics at least 4 hours before delivery (which did not end up happening, by the way).

After visiting L&D, I went to see my acupuncturist the morning of January 2nd to try to get things moving naturally. We also had a regular doctor checkup at 3:15pm that day with my NP. She checked me (my first internal check ever during my pregnancy) and told me I was 3 cm dilated. I asked her to “sweep the membranes” while checking me which was something our doula was having us consider as another way to get things moving. We left the appointment confident that we would be meeting our precious baby soon! Scott was off work for the remainder of the day so we went home and had some time to relax together. “Real” contractions that we recognized as ones we should start timing started about an hour after our appointment, around 4:30pm on January 2nd. They varied anywhere from 10-15 minutes apart so we just did our relaxation exercises we learned in class and stayed distracted with watching Jumungi.  Per our doula’s recommendation, we went to bed at 9:30 and tried to get some sleep. 

At 12:30am on January 3rd, I was awakened by a pretty heavy contraction. I grabbed my phone and got the contraction timer started. They were about 6 minutes apart. I worked through a few of them in bed but soon became too uncomfortable and decided to try to get in the bath. I did not wake Scott up as I wanted him to get as much sleep as possible. In my mind, I was going to have a long labor and I wanted him to be as rested as possible. I drew a bath in the hall bathroom and turned on our battery operated candles. I also lit a few real candles… all of this was in between contractions. They were getting a bit debilitating at this point. I climbed in the bath and tried to relax. James Bond, our cat, was so curious and in and out of the bathroom checking on me. He kept me company as I breathed through 2 or 3 more intense contractions in the bath. They quickly got to 3-4 minutes apart and the water was getting cold. I got out and was milling about in our room, which woke Scott up. He called the doula and told her to head over to our house… things were happening! Just as he got off the phone with her, I started having a pretty intense contraction that made me so nauseous that I vomited... I was on all fours in our bed and asked Scott to grab the bowl that I had placed by the bedside. Afterward, I got up and walked to the bathroom and noticed some blood dripping down my leg. At that point Scott said we should go to the hospital.

Honestly, I was still thinking we had some time to labor at home. In retrospect, I was definitely in transition and should have recognized it with the vomiting and all. I think I was waiting for the contractions to get to the point of being unbearable since that is what everyone told me would happen… the contractions would be so bad I would be begging for an epidural. Since I was not feeling that yet, I assumed I was not even close. But the blood was a bit frightening so we decided it was time. We called the doula and re-routed her to Kaiser.

The drive was quick and we got to Kaiser at about 2am. We had to check in through the Emergency Room as the entrance to the hospital was closed after hours. They sent someone down with a wheel chair to wheel me up even though I felt like I would have been better off walking. By the time we got up to L&D and into a room and they checked me I was 9cm dilated! I reminded them that I was GBS positive and needed IV antibiotics. It was part of our birth plan for me to have a heplock instead of a full on IV for the antibiotics. I wanted them to be administered and then all of the tubes to be removed. I didn’t want to be connected to a bunch of tubes while in labor. The nurse hooked me up and began administering fluids along with the antibiotics. I told her I did NOT want fluids and that I wanted to her to get the the abx in me and remove the IV line. She wasn’t listening to me, but the midwife, bless her heart, asked the nurse why she had me hooked up to fluids when I asked not to be. She explained that she didn’t want the abx to burn going in so she was combining them with fluids. This procedure was making it take even longer to get the abx in, so the midwife instructed her to stop the fluids and do what I had asked for. She complied.

I was in hard labor, sitting cross legged with my fists pushing down at either side to lift me up a bit when the Midwife suggested I lay down. Apparently, I was “sitting on the baby’s head”. Any movement at this point was pretty painful but I reluctantly agreed. She brought in a birthing bar that they attached to the bed so I could pull myself up or lean on it. I ended up using it to push against with my feet as the midwife instructed me how to pull my body into a curve and push. The doula arrived and got some aromatherapy going which was the most amazing smell to me at that moment. I was so relieved to have her there. Just the peace of mind knowing she was on stand by just in case. Scott was doing all he could to make it bearable for me- holding my hand, giving me his arm to pull on, giving me water when I felt thirsty, which was pretty much every 2 minutes. I was definitely in the zone, focusing only on breathing through my contractions and drinking water (which was the best tasting water I've ever had, by the way).

 By 3:15am I felt the urge to push... About 30 minutes of pushing (and figuring out how to push and at the right time!) out she came! I wasn't really sure how hard I needed to push, so I think that is the only reason it took 30 minutes. I started out with some pretty weak pushes and after realizing that those were getting me nowhere, I started to really bear down with some effort. I was feeling everything, including the tearing that was happening. I let out a loud yelp with the final tear and before I had time to even think about it, our baby girl was on my chest. I was feeling her warm slippery body against my skin. What a surreal moment. I remember feeling so tired, but also so very alert. Above all, I was extremely thankful that everything had gone well. We were now a family of 3! Pretty amazing stuff.