My (long and very detailed!) Birth Story **Pictures added!
Birth Story of Katie Belle, July 2nd, 2011:
Once I hit 38 weeks, I was very anxious to get my little girl out and into the world. This was partly because I was really hoping to stay out of the hospital, have no induction and have a nice natural water birth at my local birthing center. Well, not everything went as planned.
In my head, I had it planned that I'd be in labor June 22-26. (The 22nd was the day I turned 39 weeks.) No idea why really, it just felt like that would be the time. So when sunday, (June 26th) came around and produced two bloody shows plus contractions, I was super excited. The next day I was labeled as in early labor, 1 cm dilated and with a soft cervix. However on Tuesday, my labor officially petered out. I was so upset I'd have to go through that again! I had tried everything to induce labor: eggplant recipes, long walks, swimming, sex, bouncing on the birthing ball, hands and knees, bribery with birthday cupcakes, etc. Anything tried and true just wouldn't work for me.
(Me sitting on my birthing ball, trying to get things moving!)
Through this week, I kept trying to encourage contractions. My body was definitely trying to go into labor, it just wasn't able to keep it steady and progressive. Still, the fact that it was trying meant I was in a lot of pain all week, and trying to nurture that pain to grow into real contractions. After a few days I remember getting a little batty, hurting all day and night, not able to sleep very well. I remember a song that plays currently on the radio constantly (funny enough, it always came on the radio within a few miles of the birthing center a few weeks in a row.) I have no idea what the song is about, but the chorus is upbeat and says "my body tells me no, but I won't quit 'cause I want more," and I remember that little bit of upbeat song got me through some rough contractions and saved me from going insane. It was like my labor chant, and I tried to stay strong by it.
By Wednesday though I had given up on the idea of labor. I told my husband that he better like me fat, because I'd be pregnant forever since this baby was never coming out. My water broke at 1 am on her due date. Again, I was super excited. And again, labor went no where. I had so much water that I went through just about every pair of pants and underwear that still fit over the next 2 days. The cramping and water combined left me completely sleepless. The appointments we had for every 12 hours for a doctors office over a half hour away was exhausting for the both of us. By Friday I was told I should seriously consider inducing. I agreed that if nothing happened by 8 pm that night, I'd give up the fight and be induced. Nothing happened (except I cried hysterically and hormonally all day) so we packed the car with the hospital gear.
I became very sentimental as we prepared to leave. I kept thinking, "this is the last time I'll walk through the nursery without a baby," "this is the last time we'll be able to say that just Bill and Jill live here," "this is the last time I'll brush my teeth before having a baby," etc. I suddenly became very attached to my dog, who I didn't want to leave for a whole weekend. She seemed so sad and confused why we were going away. I felt like I'd miss her so much that I took the doggy stuffed animal lookalike of her from the nursery to bring to the hospital. It just made me feel better.
(My last pregnancy picture before leaving for the hospital)
The drive seemed very long to the doctors office. We talked about our fears, what we hoped would and wouldn't happen, and how excited we were that we almost had her here. We kept saying that even if all of our plans went to pot, it would still be wonderful to have her here so we focused on that. I was nervous, anxious, and so tired. Bill was very comforting and said everything he knew to say to help me feel better.
My favorite midwife, Tammy, was on call and promised she'd be with us the whole time. This instantly made me feel better. Once we reached the birthing center for the last check up, she very carefully explained how things would work, gave us many options on many things, and helped to soothe our fears and concerns. She gave us our three options for induction - the easy cylotec pill (which I had heard many horror stories about, thanks to documentaries like Pregnant in America), the normal pitocin, or a foli bulb. The foli bulb is a catheter they put up through the cervix, then blow up a balloon behind it. They strap the remainder of the catheter to the leg and then pull on it, applying more pressure every half hour until it eases open the cervix and pops out. This could at least get me to 3-4 cm naturally before having to try something else. We decided to try to go as far naturally as possible, so we chose this option. She then gave me a check up, but said that unless I'm greater than 5 cm, which we both knew I wasn't, we'd be heading off to the hospital. Turns out I had barely made any progress at all through the week, despite everything I had done to try. I was only 1 1/2 cm, with a completely high, posterior cervix (and a questionably posterior baby). Off to the hospital I went. Tammy called ahead to make the transition smooth and promised she'd be there with us as soon as she called my doctor to keep him updated on everything.
On the short drive there, i started getting scared. This was really it - I'd be entering into the hospital and not coming back out until I had a baby - one way or the other. It was really going to happen, I'd soon be experiencing labor and childbirth and entering into the no turning back zone into the world of parenting. This night would change my life and my husband's forever. Something that monumentous suddenly seemed a bit nerve wracking and gave me the jitters.
When we entered the hospital, there was already a room waiting for us. There was no checking in or anything, we were Tammys patient and only hers. We went right into our room. As I entered it, I got a bit panicky. There were Machines everywhere. It looked very cold and sterile, a far cry from the cozy cottagehouse bedroom we were supposed to deliver in. Looking around made my heart race: I still couldn't imagine that this would be the room where everything in my life would change. This was the transitional room; where we'd go from a couple of two to a family of three. Where a life that we created and would always be with us would finally come into our world, after so much waiting and anticipation. This was where all those sleepless nights I spent fantasizing about our little girl coming to us would finally be actualized. Even moreso, three summers ago I was in this same hospital, fearing that I'd never be able to have children. (I had ovarian cancer at age 19 - this is truly a miracle baby for me!) now here I was, back again and readmitted to the hospital, finally putting that terrible fear to bed for good. My little girl was on her way.
I was immediately told to get dressed in the hospital gown and to get in bed. It was a bit overwhelming, just moments after walking into the room I was getting a million things done to me by multiple nurses; blood pressure, bracelets, temperature, fetal and contraction monitors, iv sites, induction prep, and a million questions and signatures to fill out. Bill and I felt a bit in a blur and requested to see Tammy again, just so we could have a clear view of what would be happening and how. She quickly came in, explained in detail the procedure and how long it would probably take, then began the process of induction right away.
It took a while for them to do, as I had so much water I was flooding everywhere. This was almost 48 hours after it broke, but it was still coming out like a waterfall. They ended up putting a foli bag at the end to help give the water a place to go (at this point it was rushing down the tubes and erupting all over the bed, soaking through pads, etc). The nurses were pretty stunned, they said they've never seen someone with so much water. They went back and forth trying to clean the bed and me and put me on many pads to try and get me comfortable.
Once it was in, I was already feeling drained. I had been falling asleep and yawning heavily at the birthing center, all of this adrenaline and nervousness had drained me further. At this point, I hadn't slept in three days, save for little cat naps here and there that just weren't enough. All I wanted to do was sleep, but with natural contractions grabbing at me plus new ones caused by the bulb that were getting heavier and heavier, I couldn't sleep. Once I reached the point of tears, I asked for sleep medication. By this point it was about 11:30 and Tammy had just left for a few hours at home after I said I would be fine alone for a while (her daughter had called freaking out because there was a bat in the house.) Tammy called me to make sure I really wanted the sleep meds and to make sure no one had pushed them on me before giving her consent to order them. I called my mom while waiting, struggling just go get through the first real dilating contractions. By 1 am, i was able to drift in and out of sleep. I loved this medication - it made my head feel like a ton of weight, but almost pleasantly like it was forcing me to give in to sleep - i had no choice, I couldn't stay awake and nurse fears or hopes, I had to sleep. The only thing that really annoyed me was it making my nose itch a lot, that tended to wake me up.
At 4 am, I had to get up and go to the bathroom. I had done this a few times before so I was getting used to walking with a catheter, water bag, cords wrapped over my neck and monitors clinging to my belly. I called for a nurse to unplug me from my machines and help me get out of the (still drenched) bed. Once I got to the bathroom though, I found that despite my bladder telling me I really needed to go, I couldnt pee at all. By now in the pregnancy, I figured it was my body playing more games on me, and I knew how this one went well: give up on peeing, go back to bed, immediately need to get back up and go again. So I just waited, hoping nothing was wrong with me, still feeling a little woozy from the drugs. Suddenly, I felt something small woosh through my cervix and heard a splash in the toliet - I looked down and saw the foli balloon. Instantly I felt so much better and I could then pee. I told the nurse what had happened and she helped unstrap me from the catheter and free me of one thing. I got back in bed and the nurse told me I should be about 3 cm by now and that Tammy was going to come back at 5:30 am and she'd check me then. I was so happy that I woke Bill up to tell him, then I called my mom to tell her - I was actually progressing! My body was doing this! It was the first hopeful sign and I felt wonderful...until the first major contraction hit. So much stronger now, it took over my whole body. I was still so tired and wanted more medication, since the last sleeping med dose had worn off a little before 4 am. The nurse said she'd run it by Tammy, but then told me that they couldn't give me another shot - it would have to be through iv. Honestly with how much pain i was in, I can't believe I didn't consent to it. But something in my brain wouldn't even let me think about doing so - I immediately said no and waited for tammy to come back to hopefully sway her into giving me another by shot. Through the next hour and a half, I stared at the clock and died a little through each contraction. I couldn't get myself to rise above them, nothing worked. Instead of picturing an ocean wave like I had heard so many times, it just felt like I was sinking beneath the waves and running out of air before I could make it to the top. These were some hard contractions and I got through them whimpering, whining and praying that Tammy would soon return. It got to the point where I didn't even want Tammy to return to give me drugs - she was just a goal, and I assumed somehow that once she came back she'd magically make all the pain go away - oh, I was really wrong about that one!
Around 6 am, Tammy returned to me. Dodging frequent contractions, she checked my dilation and announced I was 8 cm. I was so shocked, I literally thought she was joking. I asked her what I really was, and she repeated 8 cm, with the baby's head very low. She said I was about 60% effaced. Here I was given the option to have the birth I had so wanted - she told me had never seen or heard ofthe foli bulb work so well, it had never naturally encouraged a body to run with dilation like that before. She said I was doing so well, we could hop in the car and drive to the birthing center and she'd let me have my water birth. But by this time, I was passing through transition and couldn't move. The idea of walking around, especially going in a car and driving over the bumpy roads, literally horrified me. As much as I had grieved over the loss of the birth I wanted, it was too late to reclaim it now.
In hopefulness, I asked her for a shot of drugs. I didn't care what, but I wanted something in shot form. She said the only thing was in Ivs now. I asked for nubaine but she told me she honestly didn't think it would have any effect on me at this point. I pouted at her, silently pleading to make something, anything work. Somehow, looking at Tammy, I never asked for the epidural. I viewed Tammy as my strength, I deeply trusted her and felt like she'd get me through this. I wanted a little help, but I didn't want to fail at this. I wanted her to guide me and show me how to get through this without changing everything in my plans. When she shot down the nubaine request, I stopped thinking drugs would be my escape and didn't mention them again.
Tammy encouraged me to go take a hot shower, but i knew I wouldn't be able to stand through these contractions as they left me feeling weak and shaking. She told me to get up and walk, but I couldn't muster it. I wanted to be on the bed. The sleep meds must have effected me all through labor because I closed my eyes and drifted in and out through every contraction. This made Tammy worried that things wouldn't continue fast enough and I'd be too tired by the end of it, so she asked me to get on hands and knees with my birthing ball. I could stay in bed for that and have support, so I told her that would be ok. Bill grabbed the ball and Tammy helped me into position. This time, when I had contractions, she encouraged me to bear down if I felt the pressure to. She told me to listen to my body and do as it said. I did do light bearing down, but was still afraid to add to the pain. I slept on the ball between contractions, but only managed to stay like this for about ten minutes before I started to shake and my knees gave in. I laid back down, and Tammy got me to go back on the ball again later. I don't know what time it was, but I'm estimating around 7:30 Tammy checked me again. She said the cervix was completely gone - I was fully dilated and fully effaced with the baby's head ready to go.
This was when I realized that all the awful pain I'd been through was nothing. I realized that I could relate this feeling to nothing else i had ever gone through, nothing came close. If I thought I was drowning before, I was wrong. Before was like being in a kiddie pool - this was the deepest of the oceans. Thankfully, I had some things to anchor me and kept me from losing my mind. I felt like I was in a world of my own, looking out to another. The positiveness that Tammy, Bill and my nurse Maggie was wonderful. They gave me so much hope and encouragement. Simple words of affirmation, such as saying good job or things looked great did so much for me, it felt like little bits of drugs being released every time. It really helped to get me through. Bill showered me in affections and somehow, through all the haze and pain, I clung to the thought of making him proud of me. This was one thing in life I was so determined to succeed in, and I didn't want to just say I succeeded by producing a baby - I wanted to see my success in his eyes when he saw me do it completely by myself, no medical interference and sticking to my guns about keeping our baby healthy. I built a boat out of my anticipation to succeed and see his pride in me, and nailed it together with the words of affirmation being offered. Somehow, even though I wouldn't have expected it to, this got me through so much.
(Between pushes. That's my DH's hand holding the heat pack against my back!)
Pushing lasted forever (two and a half hours in real time). The contractions here didn't seem as bad as the transitional ones, but the pushing made it worse. I remember thinking in all of the books and stories I'd read, everyone said pushing made things feel better. It didn't! It tore at me, made me lose my mind a little each time, it was so painful. The only time I could push without hurting terribly was after the contraction ended - I'd still push a little to add to the progress and it felt fine to do. But of course, the little pushes weren't going to get me anywhere - I needed to learn how to push past the pain, which was repeated to me over and over. I remember thinking that these people just didn't understand - there was no pushing past the pain. There was nothing past the pain - it was just pain, and more pain, and more and that was all there was.
I had once read about someone talking about "labor land", where the only thing that existed was getting through one contraction to the next and getting things over with. This is exactly how i felt - I was in a world of my own. This world was very dark (they kept almost all the lights out, not something I even noticed until afterwards) and all there was in that land was me and these contractions. Just me, pressure, pain, and a hope that the giant bulge I felt would pass. There wasn't even a baby in my mind really, because that felt too surreal. At this point, I couldn't imagine having a baby coming out. It just felt like something was gigantic and making it's way down, and my whole life consisted suddenly of getting it out just so I could go back to sleep.
It was while pushing, I believe, that my contractions were minimalized only by the searing pain of my tailbone. It literally felt like it was breaking, even after the baby's head was past it. I turned into a wild animal, shreeking, groaning and grunting. I begged Tammy to tell me what was wrong and why my tailbone hurt so badly - it was worse than any other pain, including the head coming out. She didn't know though, had no idea why my tailbone would still be hurting after the baby's pressure was off of it. I still don't know, but I do know that even after the baby was born, through the next few days my tailbone still hurt badly and crippled my ability to walk upright because it was so sore. The only thing that helped was between contractions, Tammy, Bill and Maggie all took turns applying pressure to my lower back and putting a heating pad on it. Long after the heating pad had gone cold, I still begged for it - it was just the right amount of pressure with it on me. I wouldn't even let them take it away to reheat.
At some point, I remember them moving me and lots of water came out, soaking my hospital gown. Maggie quickly got it off of me (not sure how, I don't remember her ever moving my arms or anything, she just whisked it away). She brought another one to me to put on, but I told her not to touch me and that I didn't care if I was naked. I didn't care about much really, as long as no one touched me I was okay. So from that point on (which was relatively early in the pushing stages) I went completely naked, which actually helped. Not having to worry about a gown tripping and pulling at me was helpful - basically the entire time my thought process was the less there was on me, be it moniters, clothing or ivs, the better. The only exception was pressure to my back and the heat pad.
I tried pushing first in a squatting position, gripping the sidebar to the bed with all my might and the birthing ball with the other. I'd squat down to my toes (I have no idea how Tammy could see anything, but she could!) and I'd push. Gravity wasn't much of a friend here really. The baby wasn't coming out as well as anyone was hoping, and the only thing it did was kill my toes. So for the remainder of pushing, I laid down on my sides, changing sides once in a while to help further open up the pelvis. I favored my left side though, and Maggie put up a handlebar she told me to use to help with pushing. All it did was cramp my hand though, so bad that even when not pushing I'd still be clutching the handle because my hand wouldn't come free of it. Eventually, she actually had to peel my fingers off of it because I couldn't relax my hand at all.
(Me on all fours leaning on my ball and holding DH's hand)
It seemed like forever, but Tammy announced that she could see a full head of hair pretty early on in the pushing stage. I don't think I believed her, I was 100% expecting a bald baby and assumed she mustn't been seeing things correctly. But for the next few hours, she kept talking about all that hair, and Maggie and Bill both said they saw it too. Tammy guessed that it would be Bill's hair coloring when it was dry. (It was a good guess, as she's showing blonde in her hair now.)
I remember the weirdest thoughts going through my head. I was so out of it, but something in my brain was working. I remember when everyone kept telling me "good girl". We had been taking our dog Sophie to training classes for three months now, and were always told to shower her in praises and tell her good girl. Especially when my husband said it, I felt a bit like I was the dog in the dog training classes and in my insanity, it through me through strange mental imagry that distracted me from at least one or two contractions.
Tammy announced at some point here that my contractions, which had been coming anywhere from one on top of the other to 2 -3 minutes, were slowing down to every 5 minutes. This had seemed like a relief to me before she mentioned it, but scared me once it was said. I had come so far, there was no way I was going to allow my body to stall. After I heard this, I started focusing more and willing my body to make them happen more often. And it actually worked - they quickly picked back up. I was still so tired though, drifting in and out between contractions to try and keep some energy, that Tammy seemed a bit afraid I'd lose my ability to continue strong pushes. She said she thought I'd really benefit from a mirror so I could see my progress. But by this time, they kept mentioning after each contraction her head would go in a bit. I knew seeing that would be anything but beneficial, and I hated the idea of seeing the source of my pain (I didn't want to see how open I was, or if i was tearing as I felt like i was.) I told her no, afraid seeing that the head would kill my will. She offered it again but I refused immediately.
Another time that scared me was when I tried pushing on my back, and Tammy said that Katie didn't like it. She didn't say what was going on, but when her voice turned urgent as she told me to quickly turn over, I knew Katie's heart rate was dropping. I was barely able to move at this point, but hearing her say that quickly made me flip over to my left side. As soon as i did, Tammy walked away from the heart monitor as Katie's heart rate went back to normal. I stayed away from pushing on my back from then on.
later, bill would tell me about their worried mutterings about my coloring as well, which he admitted scared him too to see. He told me all color was drained from me, I had gone ghost white and even my lips carried no color at all. Something I remember hearing around the same time was Maggie and Tammy talking about how the baby literally planted her feet on my bottom ribs and pushed downwards. Tammy also said here that she bet Katie would be a swimmer.
By around 10 o'clock, Tammy called in the delivery team that would help assist her in the birthing from her end. I remember feeling very excited and a little scared as she put on a blue gown and a face mask as other nurses gathered around at the ready. It was so soon, Katie was finally almost out! It seemed surreal that it would be ending, that we were so close. I still couldn't imagine the baby at this point, i kept trying to get myself to push harder so that i could see my baby sooner, but I was a bit delerious by now. I tried to picture a baby coming out and just couldn't, but the idea thrilled me enough. At this point I was begging Tammy not to let me tear. I felt like everything was being ripped and torn open and I was so scared I'd never recover from the damage. I remember feeling like I was tearing all up and down, I figured I must have been because how could I continue to stretch so wide? Tammy had warm cloths on my perinium to help down there, but the pain was all on top, which she regretfully said she had no control over. She offered me a giant needle full of numbing meds, which I said I wanted until I saw how big it was. Too terrified to add to the pain at this point in case it sent me over the edge, I denied it. Little did I know that she would have to use it later anyway, and that I should have just got it here!
Still, she promised I wouldn't be ruined and that if I could just push through the sensation, I'd have my baby out. The searing, ripping pain changed into my entire area feelling like it had combusted into flames of fire. At 10:17 AM, I looked down and saw the fuzzy head and torso of my baby. Her long umbellical cord was wrapped all around her - through and around her legs, around her arm and shoulder, around her neck and back down again. They had to untwist her, then they handed her to me. This was possibly because they kept saying that they could she her twirling as she was coming out (which was good, since she ultimately ended up not being posterior.) Multiple times as I pushed they remarked on her hairy head going round. It seems like a blur at this point, so much was happening. My brain was reeling from the fact that this little blue, gooey baby had actually come out of me, and that I had actually got her out. I couldn't believe it was all over!
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Babywearing, co-sleeping, exclusively breastfeeding, AP, natural birthing, happily married SAH Mommy to Katherine Isabelle.