Saturday, August 4, 2012

Birth Story Part 3: Triumphant

This is the final installment of my birth story. You check out part one here, and part two here.

It was determined that I needed an internal monitor (and I thought the external ones were uncomfortable!), although at this point, I can‘t quite remember why. When Ann went to insert it (my second internal examine), I was six centimeters dilated. She also noticed that, despite all the leaking, my caul was still mostly intact. Thinking it might help the process along, Ann broke my bag of waters with an amniohook.

I was shocked that there was still so much amniotic fluid in there! I felt a warm rush from between my legs, soaking the bed. The sheets were quickly and quietly switched out.

I’m not sure what time it was at this point. Maybe 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.? But, it wasn’t too long before things really started to pick up (finally!).

I began to feel the contractions. I was actually pretty excited, at first. After each one I would look at Dan and exclaim “I had a contraction!”. We exchanged a few high fives and hugs. We would be meeting our baby soon!

Next thing I knew, I was in active labor. In what seemed like no time, my contractions went from fairly mild and well spaced, to one right on top the other. I tired to remember the wisdom of the doula that taught our birth class and to focus on the time in between the contractions so that I wasn’t focusing on the pain. I breathed deeply and made low, groaning sounds as I exhaled, which was immensely helpful compared to the times when I lost my focus and let out high-pitched screams.

As the contractions grew in intensity, I was out of that bed like a shot. It was so uncomfortable, and at that point, there was no way anyone would be forcing me to lay down or stay put, beeping monitors be damned! I think I ripped off that ridiculous finger monitor at one point, too. And, at some point, I also ripped off my hospital gown. Partly in rebellion, and partly because I couldn’t take the feeling of it on my skin. When Ann returned, with a new nurse in tow, I was standing I the room stark naked.

Ann brought in a birth ball and we placed it on the bed. I stood, draped over it, swaying back and forth, moaning (sometimes screaming), and doing my best to focus. The intensity of the contractions had come on so quickly (ironic, after the hours of nothing) that I started to worry I might not be able to do it. But, be it stubbornness, or sheer determination, I was not willing to even entertain the idea of drugs. This was a major part of my birth plan. I was going to do this as naturally as I could at this point and no one was going to take that away from me.

Around 10:00 or 11:00, I was kind of in a haze, but heard Daniel chatting with Ann, trying to decide when he should call my parents so that my mom could be present for the birth. He asked how much longer it would be, and of course, Ann replied that there was no way to know. The part that scared me was hearing her say that I might not even be ready to start pushing until 6:00 the next morning or later. I tried not to think about that for too long, lest I lose my focus. Dan made the call to get in touch my parents anyway. Even if it would be a while, my mom would want to know that things were getting close. It ended up being a good thing that he did.

I started getting irritated and quite loud. I remember remarking (yelling) that I was not expecting the contractions to get so painful and so close together so quickly. I felt like I hardly had a break. At one point, I remember shoving the birth ball off the bed in frustration. I wasn’t sure how to get comfortable. Anytime Dan, bless his heart, tried to massage my back or rub my head, it just made things worse. Someone kept wiping my forehead with cool, damp washcloths, though, and that felt lovely. I was sweating like a loon! My body had never worked so hard. Looking back, I must have been in transition at this point. I started to feel like I needed to pee or poop, but trying to sit on the toilet made things worse.

This was around 12:30 Wednesday morning, and Ann decided to check my cervix. To everyone’s surprise, I was already at 10 centimeters, and to my relief, I was ready to start pushing. Now the feeling of needing to use the toilet made sense. I was feeling the urge to push! It was about this time that my mom arrived.

Pushing was such an interesting experience. It’s so hard to describe what it felt like! But, I was glad to actually feel like I was more actively doing something. I was working with my contractions and it would not be long before the little person who had been growing in my uterus for the past 35 weeks would be earthside!

I was standing during my first few pushes and ended up peeing all over the floor. Comfort-wise, the position was not really working for me either. Ironically, despite my earlier protest, I got back in bed. Ann suggested getting on my hands and knees, but it’s not what my body wanted. I turned onto my left side with my right leg in the air (supported by my mother). I’m not sure how or when they got there, but sometime during pushing, a team from the NICU assembled ready to look over my premie when he or she was born. Funny how all your modesty flies out the window when you’re in labor! I can’t even tell you how many people saw me naked that night.

I pushed for about an hour and started feeling my baby’s head move down the birth canal. My mom kept remarking how much hair he or she had. I was able to touch the head at point and was overwhelmed by how soft it was. Dan kept telling me how amazing I was doing and I could hear the emotion in his voice every time our baby’s head made and appearance. I felt a bit of pain around my vagina and perineum, but the “ring of fire” was not nearly as painful as I expected. Ann rubbed oil into my perineum and helped support it as my baby’s head made it bulge.

I kept trying to think of Ina May Gaskin’s “sphincter law” as I pushed and tried to keep my mouth soft in order to keep my vagina soft, but I think I had a clenched jaw more often than not. Pushing made me feel powerful, though. I was very inwardly focused at this point, and everything around me felt completely surreal. The pain, the presence of my family, all the other hospital noise. Cheesy as it may sound, in my head, I kept repeating “open, down, out” and tried to envision Shelia Kitzinger‘s description of the labia opening like the petals of a flower.

Soon, the head was out, and after one or two more pushes, I felt the rest of the body come sliding through. There is absolutely nothing that can top that moment for me. The feeling of my baby’s body coming out of me made me feel triumphant. It made the rest of the experience more than worth it. I felt the wiggly, slippery newborn body on my stomach. I was in love.

I think I heard Dan first exclaim that it was a boy. A boy! My boy. Linus Emery Welding, born at 1:42 a.m., Wednesday morning, March 14, 2012, pink, screaming, and perfect.

Since I was still laying down and without my glasses, I barely got to look at him before the cord stopped pulsing and was cut. He was then whisked over to be examined by the nurses from the NICU. Ann kept saying that he looked great and that there was absolutely nothing wrong with him. After a quick check, I was able to try breastfeeding before he needed to go to the NICU for further precautionary testing (as per hospital protocol). Because I have flat nipples, we had some trouble getting him to latch, but with the help of a nipple shield and guidance from Ann, Linus got his first taste of colostrum, that wonderful liquid gold!

Shortly thereafter, in just one or two pushes, I delivered the placenta. Ann held it up for me to see. It was beautiful. The tree of life that sustained Linus for 35 weeks.

My dad came in to meet Linus before Ann set to work repairing my second degree tear. I remember being incredibly cold and shaking uncontrollably, after affects of all the adrenaline. Ann hugged me when all was said done, congratulated me on a job well done, and told me I was a rock star. I really did feel like one!

There was a quiet stillness after that. Linus was to be in the NICU for several hours, and my arms ached to snuggle him. Dan fell asleep, a nurse brought me a turkey sandwich, and everyone else was gone. I felt strong and content, but couldn’t wait until my baby boy was back in my arms and at my breast.

We moved to the maternity wing after a time and Linus, perfect as he was, was released from the NICU early and brought back to us. During our stay in the hospital, I found myself falling more deeply in love with him by the minute. Dan and I were both completely smitten. I couldn’t stop looking at him or cuddling him, this miraculous new little person. I know I’ve already said this, but it was all completely surreal, and in some ways, it still is.

Although my birth was not what I dreamed it to be, it still ended up being beautiful and Linus continues to endear me and steal my heart each day. We are so overjoyed to have him in our lives. In our new little family of three.

Trying to make the best of being in the hospital, and thoroughly enjoying my baby boy (oh, and notice that Starbucks iced coffee to the right! I cut my coffee intake quite a lot during my pregnancy, so I remember that tasting SO GOOD!). This is one of our early nusring sessions. Nursing is still his favorite pastime :)


Amanda said...

What an amazing story!!!!! And I love his name, glad to see you back on here and blogging again.

Since I'm getting married soon babies have been on my brain quite a bit and I am scared that I would not be able to go through a natural labor, but your story really made me think it might be possible. I cry when I smash my finger on I don't know what birth would be like!

Brittany said...

Thanks, Amanda! It's good to be back! :)

I know what you mean! It is a bit scary. Yes, it is painful, too, but I like to look at it as "pain with a purpose" (i.e. it's accomplishing a goal). And, it's only temporary! Plus, the reward makes the 9 months of pregnancy, and hours of labor more than worth it.

I definitely recommend researching your birth options, too - once I started really looking into it, my whole perspective changed!