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Our Birth Story

Update: edited for formatting and to add Baby2’s birth stats and some more details. Never too soon to chalk that up to mama brain, right?

First, thank you everyone for your comments on my last post! My heart swelled with your kind words and well wishes. Each one made our day that much more special. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts as we awaited the birth of our daughter!

And oh my, what a birth it was.

First, let’s go back to Tuesday’s midwife appointment (which I wrote about Tuesday night but had scheduled to post Wednesday morning, which just happened to be hours after our delivery!). She said that, based on Baby2’s positioning, my labor would likely start with my water breaking and then be intense and quick.

Oh my goodness she was so freaking right.

It started early on Wednesday, July 19th. I woke up to go to the bathroom a little after 4:30 AM, which is very normal for me lately. I went back to bed and tried to fall asleep, but I couldn’t (which had been normal for the last couple weeks).

Suddenly I heard The Pop. The Pop I had read about in other birth stories. The Pop of my water breaking. I thought, nah, that probably wasn’t it, but seconds later I felt a trickle of warm fluid. I ran to the bathroom to avoid soiling the sheets (and I totally made it down the hall and to the toilet without leaking! Score!). After I drained for a bit, I went back to bed to rest before things got going.

Mr. Handsome had just woken up a few minutes ago, but I didn’t tell him my water had broken until I had the first contraction. I quickly had three contractions in less than 10 minutes. Mr. Handsome could hear me breathing through them and asked if it was time to go. The clock said 5 AM and I realized things were happening fast. Time to pack up Kiddo1 and get going.

I got dressed and went to the bathroom a couple more times. The contractions were already super intense and I had to vocalize through them. I knew I needed some food in me, so I went to scramble some eggs (it seemed totally sane at the time!). Kiddo1 got ready with a quickness (luckily his bag was already packed and in the car!). He found me in the kitchen hunched over the counter, trying so hard not to scare him with my moaning, but probably failing.

I finished making my eggs and had to ask Mr. Handsome for a to-go container. I was already so out-of-it I couldn’t find the containers that I had reached for every morning to pack up my eggs for work. Yikes. I remember the next contraction dropped me to the floor and I pounded my fist and yelled out. Yelled. Loud. I felt the sensation of pushing. And I didn’t fight it, I pushed with each contraction from then on out.

Mr. Handsome moved with lighting speed after that! We piled in the car and took off for Kiddo1’s friend’s family’s house who, luckily, had answered the phone and agreed to take our child and lives about a minute down the street from us. We are forever in their debt for responding so quickly and keeping our son safe and occupied!

We dropped him off fast and headed toward the hospital. It was about 5:45. Mr. Handsome was so amazing. As I was somehow knelt on all fours in the third-row seat of our van (one leg on the bench seat, one leg on the floor, head toward the window grasping the seat belt and pulling on it with each contraction) he was driving us the six miles to the hospital. He asked if I wanted to stop at the hospital-affiliated clinic that is on the way. I told him to just keep going to the hospital (the clinic was probably closed anyway). The contractions still made me push, but they had slowed down. Because of that, I knew this was happening. Now.

We arrived at the hospital just before 6 – Mr. Handsome got us there in 10 flat minutes which was amazing! He later told me he ran three red lights to do it, but I was so grateful that he did! As we pulled up a contraction was starting. I finished it and we walked in together from the loading zone, where he left the car. I had a contraction in the lobby that I was able to stand through, as he explained to the front desk that I was indeed in labor and needed to get to labor & delivery, stat. They brought a wheelchair but there was no way I was sitting down! So they ushered us toward the elevator.

When we got to the L&D floor, I dropped to all fours again with another intense contraction while Mr. Handsome ran to find a nurse. I finished my contraction, got up and started wandering down the hall. I heard my name called behind me and saw Mr. Handsome and a nurse approaching with another wheelchair, which I refused again. The delivery room was right around the corner.

When we got in the delivery room I dropped my bag and literally crawled on to the bed. The nurse asked if she could check my cervix, but I told her she probably didn’t need to. I could feel the head crowning.

She and the staff had no idea what was coming.

I/she pulled off my underwear; my skirt and shirt were still on. My face was buried in the pillow and my butt was up in the air for all to see. Another contraction, another push. The nurse suddenly knew what was happening.

A fury of people entered the room. I heard a doctor introduce himself, who I believe I gave the thumbs up to. The midwife on call was rushing from another delivery. Another contraction, another push. More fury in the room. I heard Mr. Handsome say that we were interested in the waterbirth option (how freaking sweet is he?!) and a nurse (and I?) respond that there wasn’t time for that now!

Another contraction, and I knew this was it. I pushed hard and felt the ring of fire, so I backed off. How I was able to back off I don’t know, but I really didn’t want to tear!

Another contraction, and I pushed. I heard people tell me to push, but I didn’t need any direction. I felt her head emerge, I pushed again, I felt her shoulders. She was born at 6:13 am, less than 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. The midwife arrived 10 minutes later, so apologetic, but honestly, all I needed was someone to catch and I didn’t care who that was!

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I couldn’t see her! I wanted to see but I couldn’t figure out how to flip over from my all-fours position. A nurse said something about skin-to-skin and I quickly ripped off all my clothes (that stretchy Old Navy skirt came in handy! It went right over my head). Mr. Handsome and a nurse helped me turn over and my daughter was placed on my chest. I looked at her, she was amazing. Mr. Handsome and I both said that she looks exactly like her brother did when he was born. The spitting image – it’s completely amazing! I looked at the clock and realized all that happened in about an hour and a half and my mouth fell open. Oh my goodness, what just happened?!

The cord blood donation process happened quickly. The nurses were so amazing. The placenta came out quickly and a nurse asked if we wanted a placenta tour. I declined but Mr. Handsome was all over it! He finds this birth thing just fascinating.

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The next two hours in the delivery room were a blur. Our daughter was here and she looked amazing. She came out perfectly pink, she was alert, she was completely healthy. She started to nurse about an hour after she was born and she ate for a solid hour. When she was done the nurses took her stats and APGARs (6 pounds, 8.8 ounces, 19 inches and perfect scores) then we were packed up to recovery and met more incredible nurses.

In the end, my GBS positive status didn’t matter at all. Of course I didn’t get a drop of antibiotics, but Baby2 didn’t show any signs of infection whatsoever. She did so great on all her tests that we were released a mere 30 hours after we had arrived (GBS positive births require a stay of 48 hours).

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We’ve been home for 27 hours now and life could not be any more perfect. Mr. Handsome is my knight in shining armor, Kiddo1 is so excited and helpful, Max is slowly taking in her smell and getting used to having a new little one to watch. Our family feels so perfect. We’re all so very happy!

Repressed Birth Story Memories?

Is it possible that I may have conveniently left out parts of my last birth story when I wrote it nine years ago? Things that I didn’t write down at the time because maybe I didn’t think were significant? Things that I only lately have begun to remember due to all the reading I’ve been doing?

Nine years ago, I didn’t know anything about the birth process. I didn’t know anything about inductions or drugs that were used other than there were things that could take the pain away. I didn’t research the side-effects of any interventions and I completely trusted medical professionals to watch out for my best interests. I was so young, so naive!

Reading back on my birth story, the only things I noticed as interventions were the artificial breaking of my water and the vacuum-assisted delivery (due to almost three hours of pushing because I couldn’t feel anything due to the high dose on the epidural). But the more I read the word “pitocin” the more I remember it being a part of my labor with Kiddo1.

I remember a conversation occurring upon my admittance to the hospital that went something like this:

Nurse: We can give you some pitocin to speed things up if you’d like.
Me, shrugging: Well that sounds pretty cool.
Nurse: Okay.

I don’t remember a conversation about side effects or risks (although, to their credit, we didn’t ask either). I don’t remember advisories about the strength of dose and the fact that the dosage could be adjusted. I don’t remember basically having my labor induced, even though I was progressing normally (or at least I’m pretty sure I was, at the time, since I admitted at 5 cm). I only remember having the drug suggested and then contractions TAKING OFF. I also now remember the constant monitoring of the “belly belt” and how I was confined to a bed but didn’t complain at all, really (unless you count the crying and screaming, but that was due to pain of constant contractions more than anything else). As far as I can remember, I was a model patient and, frankly, those nurses were lucky to have me!

I feel two things about this memory of receiving pitocin.

On the one hand, I feel upset at the hospital. I feel like speed and convenience were more of a priority than my and my unborn child’s well-being. As far as I can remember, this drug was offered and given very soon after I was admitted, so the hospital staff didn’t even wait to see how I was progressing before wanting to speed things up. I wonder how my labor and delivery would have been different had I been more educated and refused the offer for the drug.

On the other hand, I feel encouraged for this upcoming birth. Knowing what I know now about pitocin, my contractions shouldn’t be on top off each other like they were last time. They shouldn’t be as painful either. Bonus! However, my labor could progress a bit slower. Here’s how I’m altering my expectations:

  • Expect a longer labor this time.
  • Expect a labor with a more natural progression.
  • Expect to be able to rest between contractions, at least at the beginning.
  • Expect different feelings, perhaps with less pain or more manageable pain.
  • In short, expect an entirely different experience.

This memory makes me so happy to have chosen to educate myself this time around. I’m happy that Mr. Handsome and I have picked a hospital and care group in my midwifes that backs my decision to labor and deliver without interventions of drugs, artificial induction techniques, constant monitoring and other “modern conveniences.” I’m happy that I am approaching this labor with an entirely new attitude and set of expectations. I will not fear pain. I will submit to the natural process and allow my body to guide me. Above all, I will learn from my previous experiences and be grateful for this second chance at an empowering birth!

Sure, a circumstance my arise that would warrant the use of drugs, monitoring, etc. but I will be able to make the right decisions this time. If anything, this memory is encouraging me to get what I want this time around!

Kiddo1 is 9!

It has officially been nine years since we welcomed Baby1 into our lives. I’m not going to say it seems like just yesterday, because it doesn’t. We’ve come a long, long way since February 6, 2003. Kiddo1 has grown so much; Mr. Handsome and I are so very proud of how wonderfully he has grown!

In honor of the occasion, I thought I would revisit Baby1’s birth story. I wrote it down a couple days after he was born. Look how cursive-y my handwriting was nine years ago!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Here’s what I wrote, with a little bit better formatting and a few memories added to round things out a bit:

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

After lunch with Mr. Handsome and his parents, we decided to go to the mall to walk. We walked for two hours! That probably got some things going. When I sat down for dinner later on, I noticed that the slight bits of pain that I had been feeling for a day or two had gotten a little bit more… noticeable. I started timing them after dinner.

7:00 PM: Contractions lasted about a minute and were five minutes apart for an hour, so we decided to go to the hospital and get checked out. I didn’t want to be turned away, but at the same time I had been a few centimeters dilated at my last couple weekly check-ups and I didn’t want things to have progressed so far that we wouldn’t make it to the hospital before things started to really happen (every first-timer’s nightmare of birthing in the car kept running through my mind).

8:00 PM: We arrived at the hospital and went to triage for a check. I was admitted at 5cm dilated. Things were happening for sure!

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Shortly after being admitted. Wow do I look young!

9:00 PM: My contractions weren’t very strong and the attending OB thought that I might either need to go home or have my water broken to get things moving. I opted to have my water broken. Then the contractions got bad. They were one right on top of the other and super painful (I’m pretty sure I was having some back labor too). Our parents came (all four of them) and I had to turn them away because of the pain. Later my mom told me that my dad was so frustrated with the hospital staff because they wouldn’t do anything to help with the pain. My mom had both my brother and me by cesarean so I don’t think he really understood how painful labor can be! There wasn’t much the staff could do at that point!

10:20 PM: The pain was out of control! I was screaming and crying to Mr. Handsome to make it stop. I wanted to be checked again before I asked for the epidural because I thought things had to have been progressing pretty quickly now if I was under that much pain. But Mr. Handsome and I knew that the epidural could slow things down. The room tv was tuned to the Simpsons (one of our favorites) and he asked me if I could make it until the end of the next episode. He was amazing support. He held my hand and talked me through all the pain. I don’t know what I would have done without him!

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We loved the anesthesiologist!

11:15 PM: Sweet relief! The anesthesiologist arrived and performed his epi magic. Within minutes I was sitting up, smiling, carrying on conversation as though nothing had happened. For days afterward Mr. Handsome kept commenting on how wonderful a drug that epidural was! I think he was just as relieved as I was.

Since this was my first birth, the nurses assumed my progress would be slow, therefore they did not check me before the epidural was given. Oops on them! Because I was checked immediately thereafter and I was at 9cm! At that point I probably could have gone without (and in hindsight, going without would have made for a faster pushing phase).

11:30 PM: Time to push! Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) the epidural was so strong that I could not feel any need to push at all. I had to be told when pushing time was optimal (when the contractions were at their peak). I pushed for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Even though I couldn’t feel anything, it was exhausting nonetheless.

Thursday, February 6, 2003

2:15 AM: The OB was getting concerned that pushing hadn’t yet resulted in birth. I was taking too long (admittedly, I was being lazy. I’d never “pushed” before and I didn’t know how and I couldn’t rely on instincts because I couldn’t feel a damn thing. I did my best but I had constraints, you know?). Out of exhaustion I agreed to some assistance by the vacuum.

2:30 AM: Just six and a half hours after being admitted, two more pushes, one episiotomy and a nasty third-degree tear later, I could see baby’s head! One gentle push and he was out! I remember feeling an incredible emptiness inside all of a sudden, like a huge piece of me had just been removed. But I was relieved to finally feel something since the epidural took so much away. Baby1 was finally here! We held him tight for a few brief moments before the staff took over.

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Scrapbook moment!

Things get a little fuzzy at this point. I remember the grandparents coming in and we announced Baby1’s name. They were all so excited to meet the new addition.

We finally got transferred to our “home away from home,” the recovery room, at about 6:00 AM. Gradually the feeling returned to my legs and by the time I woke up later that morning I could walk again (that epi really knocked out all my nerves!). We stayed in that tiny little closet of a room for about two days (we could have stayed for one but I was really enjoying the staff doing everything for me and I was so tired and so sore that I wanted to stay another night).

Finally we went home on Saturday and the rest, as they say, is history.