Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Birth Story

I've been writing and editing this post for almost 5 months now! This is D's birth story. We'll start at about 6 weeks before my labor actually started. At that point, D was head down deep in my pelvis with his head turned slightly to the left. The doctors actually ordered an ultrasound because I was measuring "small for dates". Everything checked out fine and he actually weighed 5 pounds 6 ounces at that time (approximately) which was a little ahead of schedule. I figure the low measurement was because he was literally that low in my pelvis.

Well, he stayed that low in my pelvis, head down, for the remainder of the pregnancy. It was great news for labor, because he was unlikely to be breech. However, I did start to have terrible hip pain. I suffered through as long as I could, but finally begged my doctor for a note to get off of work so I could rest up. I managed to get the note at my 38 week appointment and my last day of work was August 13th. I had been going to see a chiropractor, but it was not helping. Sometimes I could actually feel his little hands poking me in my hip joint.

I lost my mucus plug a little at a time during the 38th week. For my husband's birthday, we ordered a pizza. I went to pick it up, and even checked the box in the car to see if our toppings were right (all pepperoni with half tomatoes and half onions). I saw the tomatoes and onions and figured we were fine. When I got home, we saw they had left the pepperoni off of the entire pizza! I had a serious meltdown. Crying, wailing, could not be comforted. My husband had to call the pizza place and get them to send us a new pizza. When I told my mom later, she said she thought I would go into labor soon.

At my 39 week visit (technically I was 38 weeks and 6 days) I was "2.5" centimeters dilated and 70% effaced. The cervical exam was painful (which was not normal for me) and I had spotting after the exam for the rest of the day, which I had never had before with any of my prenatal exams. The whole rest of the day I felt very icky. I went out to dinner with some friends, despite feeling bad. I was planning on going the next day to a date night at church and told our friends that we would most likely be there unless we had the baby. When I got home from dinner, I went straight to bed at about 8:30pm.

A little after midnight, I woke up to pee. I noticed that I was having contractions. I had not had any noticeable Braxton Hicks, so this was my first experience with contractions. The contractions weren't painful, but I noticed that they were pretty regular. I tried to go back to sleep, but it was really distracting knowing that I was having contractions every 5 minutes. I knew the first part of labor could take awhile and I could still walk through the contractions, but I was getting a little worried that I wouldn't know when I was in late active labor since the contractions weren't very painful. My mother and her sister both had natural labors and births and said that contractions were "a little like menstrual cramps" or "like a backache" and "then you go to the hospital and get a baby".

I played on the computer for a little while to distract myself, and then finally decided to go wake Thomas up and let him know. I woke him up (he had stayed up late playing video games, so he was pretty tired) and we started to finish packing our hospital bag (I know, we should have done this earlier). We were planning on going to walk around Walmart for a little while until the contractions got too bad. By this time it was about 3:30am. We had to stop to get gas, and sitting in the car was making my contractions feel more uncomfortable, so we decided to go ahead to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, there was nobody at the check-in station for the Labor and Delivery so we had to wait about 10 minutes. The on-call secretary had apparently had to step out for a few minutes. We got checked in, and I had pre-registered, but it still took awhile to check in. It was about 4:45am when we were taken back to the triage area. They said I was 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced and strapped me to some monitors. They said they would monitor for an hour, but it actually ended up being an hour and a half.

My contractions still weren't very painful, but they were about 5 minutes apart and after the hour and a half of monitoring, I had made some progress (4 cm and 80%). So, they took me back to a room. They knew I was doing natural labor, which I guess is why they assigned me to the room at the FARTHEST end of the hall. It took forever to get there, because I kept having to stop and relax every time I had a contraction. They said they were very busy that night because of a low pressure system and a full moon coming up.

My doctor popped in to say "Hi" when she came on shift. The nurse was wonderful. She was an answer to prayer. Considering that the epidural rate at this hospital was about 98%, she was very supportive of natural birth. The only thing she asked was whether I wanted to be asked if I wanted drugs or if I would ask. I told her I would ask my husband first if I really thought I needed something and if we agreed, then we would ask. She reminded us that once I got to 8 cm I wouldn't be able to have anything. I thanked her, and she didn't mention it again.

I had discussed the monitoring with my doctors and they said they would have to do at least minimal monitoring of 20 minutes every hour. The nurse said that they did have a telemetry machine so that I could walk around and still be on the monitor. It took over an hour to track the machine down and another half hour for them to figure out how to set it up (my husband actually had to help them set it up), but I was finally able to walk around during labor. We walked around for about an hour, until about 11:30am. At that time, my contractions were starting to feel a little stronger, so I asked for the nurse to come check on me. Basically, we were left alone unless we asked for a nurse to come. She came by and said I was 7-8 cm dilated and 100% effaced. I had only been about 4 centimeters before we started walking, so this was huge progess. My water  hadn't broken yet, so I asked if it needed to be broken to help get me through transition more quickly. The nurse said sometimes breaking the water can help move things along, at other times it can slow down labor. About five minutes after she left, my water broke on it's own.

Less than an hour later, I said that I felt an urge to push. It wasn't an uncontrollable urge yet, but I wanted to check on my progress. They said I was about 9.5 centimeters dilated. I was 9.5 centimeters dilated for the next 3 hours. At one point I did tell Thomas that I couldn't do it anymore, but I knew in my head that I could. I never even mentioned drugs, that was just transition talk.

Eventually, the nurse said it was really just a lip along the top of my cervix. She let the doctor know and the doctor came by and held the lip of the cervix and said I could go ahead and push. Dcame over the lip of the cervix with no problems. This was at about 4:00pm and I started regular pushing to try to deliver D.

After about an hour of pushing with the nurse monitoring things, little progress was being made. I was having minute-long contractions, so I was generally averaging four big pushes with every contraction. I wouldn't say the contractions were painful, but if I stopped pushing they were uncomfortable to the point that I really wanted to push through the whole contraction.

When the doctor came, she thought the baby might be a little crooked because I had been pushing for so long without much effect. They could see the baby's heart rate go down during a contraction, which they said was normal, and meant that I was pushing effectively. She tried to turn the baby a couple of times while I was pushing. That was pretty painful, but I managed through the pain. After awhile, she left again and I pushed some more with just the nurse there. About forty-five minutes later, the doctor came back and took over. She kept reaching in to try to turn the baby and brought the mirror over so I could see the baby's head. It still took quite a lot of additional pushing, but we eventually got him out. The doctor's were more worried about my health than D's at that point, due to me actively pushing for so long. I was exhausted. The heart monitors wouldn't even stick to me because I was sweating so badly.

When he was born, I didn't feel the crowning, but I did feel his body coming out. It felt pretty weird. Then they plopped him on my lower abdomen. The first thing out of my mouth was, "Oh my gosh, he's huge!" I guess since he had been so low, he didn't seem like that big of a baby when he was inside me. 8 pounds 2 ounces and 20.5 inches long. Not bad for being born a week early.
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