Monday, May 25, 2009

A Month Later...The Birth Story

Seeing as the boy has now been with us an entire month, I suppose it's high time I commit the wild adventure of his birth to the blogosphere. Mind you, my recollection of times is somewhat fuzzy, seeing as I was in the midst of squeezing a tiny human from my loins...

My official due date was April 17. My entire pregnancy, I knew I would go late, as the women in my family tend to overcook their babies. I had mentally told myself not to expect anything to happen until May 2, and though I'm sure Zach could attest to some whining and complaining on my end, I think I held it together pretty well. On Friday, April 24th, we made a trek to the grocery store. I had no inclincation that anything would be happening for a few days yet, but I had the urge to get stocked up so that we could hunker down and not have to head back out before the boy arrived. I went to bed that night mentally planning out what last minute projects I would get done over the weekend and into the following week.

On Saturday morning, April 25th, I woke up around 4am with what felt like menstrual cramps. Since I was 10 months pregnant at this point, I just chalked it up to normal aches and pains and went back to sleep. Around 4:30am, I woke up again with cramps and decided to go to the bathroom. While in the bathroom, I kept getting somewhat painful cramps every few minutes. At this point, I started to think I might be in labor so I told Zach what was up, told him to stay in bed, and I headed downstairs to time the contractions. Sure enough, they were coming every 2-4 minutes, lasting about 90 seconds and getting pretty painful as they were mostly in my back. Not something I recommend. The contractions with Ezri's birth were much more pleasant and easy to deal with.

At 5:30am, I went and got Zach - not because I needed him awake yet, but because I wanted something out of our birth kit that was in the basement. Good guy that he is, he stayed up and started doing things around the house. Once it got to the point that I could barely talk through the contractions, we called our midwife, Linda, to let her know what was up. Zach had to talk to her at first since I was mid-contraction. He then put me on the phone with her and I told her that based on the pain I was having, I thought that I was *maybe* half-way into labor, about 4-5cms dialted. I really felt like I had a long while to go yet. That was around 6am.

While I was walking around, laboring downstairs, Zach got to work setting everything up - pool, fans, birth kit, etc. Let me just say, the one thing we took for granted was how much work it was to set up for a homebirth. Luckily, my sister arrived to pick up Ezri during all of this. Since Ez was still asleep, she started helping Zach get things ready in the house. During all of this, the contractions were getting incredibly painful with very little break in between. I spent most of the time on all-fours on the ground with my face buried in the seat of the couch. Even though I laughed when I read about others doing it, I did start to find that talking to myself ("You can do this." "You're fine") or even just saying the word "calm" through the contractions helped immensely. After a bit though, even that wasn't helping so I had to have Zach stand behind me and dig his hands into my lower back. I can't even begin to say how much that helped, though I did keep yelling at him when he moved, talked or did anything besides provide the precise amount of pressure in exactly the right spots on my back. Anytime he would talk, I could literally feel his words going through his arms and into my body. So not good. Things continued to pick up and all I kept asking for was a break between the contractions. At one point, I told Zach that if the midwife arrived and I was dialated to 8cm, I would be fine, but if I was only at 2cm, I was quitting.

Linda and her assistant, Stephanie, arrived around 8am. I asked her to check me and wouldn't you know, I was already at 8cm. I can't even begin to explain the relief that was. After a few more contractions, I decided to get into the pool. Granted, at the time, the idea of moving at all and sitting in warm water was the last thing I wanted. However, as soon as I got in, I said "Thank god we got the pool." It really felt amazing. It was around 8:30am, and I told everyone we would be done by 10. The contractions were still coming hard and fast. I made Zach lean over the pool to keep putting pressure on my back - no way I was letting him get in there with me. Stephanie sat in front of me and was incredibly helpful and calming. I was actually surprised I wanted anyone that close to me but it really kept me focused. After some increasingly strong contractions, I really started to lose it and started screaming that I couldn't breathe and I couldn't do it. In retrospect, this was probably transition. I then started feeling the urge to push and asked if it was okay. Linda told me it was fine. One reason we really like her is that she really encouraged me to just trust my own instincts - none of that "Okay, now I'm going to count to 10 and you need to push like this..." crap. I started to push with the contractions which felt amazing. After a pushing for a while, Linda checked me and suggested I try pushing on the birth stool for a while. Again, the idea of moving was horrendous, but I eventually got out and onto the stool.

My intial reaction to sitting on a hard wooden stool with no bottom was that it was the worst of all possible ideas. Zach was sitting behind me still pushing on my back when told to, which was still very helpful. Once I started pushing, I realized why Linda had suggested it. I finally felt like I was getting somewhere with the pushes. Up to that point, my water had not broken and I hadn't even had any bloody show. Pushing on the stool, I did get some bloody show but my waters were still in tact. As I was still in a ridiculous amount of pain and starting to get frustrated with the lack of progress, I asked Linda if she could just break my waters. Now, this entire pregnancy, I was adamant that I did not want any kind of intervention unless medically necessary, especially not having my water broken. Zach later said that he almost stopped me when I asked her to do it, since he knew I might regret it, but he held his tongue since I was clearly reaching my breaking point. I also found out - after the fact - that Linda almost never breaks women's water. However, when she had checked me in the pool, she couldn't see the water bag. When she checked me on the stool, there was a bulging bag of fluid, which indicated that the baby's head was still up but that fluid was going around it. She went ahead and broke it and I continued to push on the stool. Nothing seemed to be happening, so they suggested I move onto the living room floor and try pushing on my side.

Now THIS was the absolute worst idea I had heard all day. I did not want to move again (only about 3 steps from the dining room but still...) and I REALLY did not want to lay on the hard floor. Eventually, I made it but still was not pleased with the set up, though pushing in that position did seem to be working a bit more. At this point, I could not get a break between contractions and I really started to lose it - screaming and yelling and being every bit the stereotypical woman in labor.

After over an hour of pushing, Linda noticed that the baby's heart rate was going down and staying down. She quickly made the decision that we needed to transfer to the hospital. Her best guess at that point was that the cord may have been wrapped around him, which would explain the lack of progress. The ambulance was called and literally got here as my sister - who thankfully had come back afer dropping Ezri off and had been taping the whole thing - hung up with 911. Suddenly there were 6 large male EMTs in our living room , one of whom is a good friend of my sisters and who I've know since elementary school, while I'm still laying on the floor in just my sports bra, though I didn't really mind that part for some reason. With all of the people standing over me and the fear that something was wrong with the baby, I completely panicked and began screaming frantically. I did not want to move, I did not want to do this anymore, I just wanted a break. Unfortunately, none of those were options so away we went in the amublance. Linda stayed with me in the back to monitor the baby's heartrate since the ambulance did not have the equipment to. Throughout all of this, I was still having contractions right on top of each other and my body was continuing to push. Of course, I was being told NOT to push, as it could endanger the baby if he was tangled in the cord.

Let me just say this: our body's are designed to give birth. Once your body decides it's time to push the baby out, it pretty much does it on its own, whether you like it or not. Anyone who has ever given birth knows that the pushing stage is incredibly intense and, being that I'd been at that point for over an hour, having to stop myself from pushing, all while being taken in a bumpy ambulance and having an IV inserted, was physically one of the hardest things I've ever done. I'm so glad that Linda was there though, because her calming influence was probably the only thing that kept me from jumping out of that ambulance. I did beg for pain meds the entire time. I had in my head that once I got to the hospital, I was going to ahve them knock me out and just do a C-section because I literally did not feel like I could do anymore.

Once we got to the hospital and into the delivery room, I continued to scream and beg for drugs. Any nurse that came in, I begged and pleaded with to put an end to all of it and give me something. They kept telling me I had to wait for the doctor to come in. It felt like an eternity and I remember saying "No one is listening to me!" over and over. They hooked me up to monitors and then kept asking me to turn to my other side if they couldn't get a read on the baby's heart rate. Again, all of this while still very much in the final throws of labor where every inch of me was trying to get that baby OUT. The doctor finally came in and checked me. Oz was posterior - head down but facing up instead of to my back. Still without any kind of pain relief, the doctor set about manually turning the baby. I wanted to kill him. I really am surprised I didn't kick him, but I did keep yelling "BE GENTLE!!!" After turning him, the doctor did say "He doesn't feel very big." He ordered an epidural and told me "You've been at this for a while and he's not coming down so I'm not sure how this baby is coming out." It was then I realized I definitely did not want a C-section.

Once the epidural kicked in, I was able to collect myself and focus on the task at hand. As much as I did not want an epidural this time, I am glad I got one given the circumstances. On top of the excruciating pain and panic I was already feeling, I also started to worry what effect my stress level would have on the baby, if that might make things even worse. With the pain meds, I was able to calm down finally and push the baby out. The OB used forceps to bring him down and then I pushed him out at 10:40am, just 6.5 hours after it all started. Turns out, Oz had himself in a headlock, so on top of being posterior, he had his arm across his chest. On top of all that, the boy was a whopping 9lbs. 12oz., after EVERYONE involved had told us he was going to be on the small side. He had been stuck all this time, hence the lack of progress at home. Linda told us that given his positioning and size, there is no way he would have come out without the intervention.

So that was that. He checked out just fine and we only stayed at the hospital for 24 hours, mainly for Oz since they like to keep an eye on them for at least a day. Though, after spending just one night in the hospital, Zach and I are even more strongly for homebirth. We most definitely were not sick, so being treated as "patients" was just frustrating and inconvenient and certainly not in any of our best interests. Fingers crossed that the next one stays in a good position and I can finally get a completley natural childbirth. I have no regrets about either of my births, as the decisions we made were necessary and ones we were comfortable with given the extreme circumstances of both. At the same time, it would be nice to do it without all the hoopla.

Talking to Linda during our follow-up appointments, it seems that Oz had probably put himself in that position a few weeks before his actual birth, which is why all of my efforts to turn him from posterior to anterior had not worked. Also, given how quickly my labor progressed, had he not been stuck, I likely would have had him at home before Linda even arrived. It would have been interesting to see how well we handled that one, though we did have the checklist for what to do if the baby arrived befor the midwife.

At any rate, our little guy gave us quite a story to share about his entrance into the world. With a beginning like this, we can only imagine what he'll get into as he grows up.


greengudz said...

Amazing story - so glad to hear everything is going well!

Moxy Jane said...

Whew! Lordy, I need a drink after all that;-) So glad Oz was delivered safe and sound - and the third time was a charm for us! I actually can not believe you even mentioned the "next time" after that experience. You are amazing!! My deepest congratulations to you and Zach on your new BIG boy!!

The Jagielski Family said...

Love it! You have such a gift to write. What a neat way to remember the big event. I recently met someone who birth all 5 kids at home- or that was her intention too. Two she had to head to the hospital with but all in all she said what an amazing feeling it was to be at home in the comfort of your own suroundings and without all the procedures and protocals of the hospital births. Neat!