Posts Tagged ‘guest posts’

Birth Stories: Laura

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

To help fill in posts while I recover and adjust to life with a newborn AND a toddler I have some friends who have agreed to share their birth stories. Laura of the adorable And Two Became One kindly volunteered to be included in my week and I’m thrilled she did. Although I should tell you, if my new bebeh is already giving you baby fever, DO NOT click over to her blog and check out pictures of Shelby. Fair warning: it’s a birth story so it’s rated PG-13. And don’t get all shocked if someone says “vagina”.

Shelby’s Birth Story
by Laura Payette originally published on And Two Became Three

I really resisted getting Pitocin, mostly because I had heard so many horror stories about how it made your contractions really strong and hard to endure without an epidual. Also, that it had the potential to lead to a C-section, which I did not want. But my water had been broken for about 20 hours and I wasn’t making much progress. The fear was infection setting in, which really could have led to a C-section, so I caved and was okay with it.

I was relegated to my labor and delivery suite but not to the bed. In fact, I didn’t even get in bed. We realized pretty quickly that every time I even leaned over the bed or sat down on the birth ball my contractions would space out, so I mostly stayed on my feet swaying back and forth. I passed several hours like that, occasionally hopping online to pass the time. My contractions were really tolerable and I was beginning to think that a natural birth might just have been possible!

Then all of a sudden while Chris and I were playing a game of gin I felt something pop and drop, and the result was a huge burst of pain. Turns out it was the rest of my amniotic sac rupturing. I guess originally only the outer layer had been punctured. Now the whole sac was completely broken and Shelby had dropped a little bit. The contractions that followed were out of this world. I didn’t hold out long before I asked for the epidural. There was NO WAY I could’ve birthed her naturally based on the pain I experienced. Hats off to moms who go all the way. You are amazing.

Fortunately, the anesthesiologist came quickly and got the epidural in without any trouble. It was hard to hold still, in the perfect rounded position, but I did it. The relief was almost immediate, although it took a good 15-20 minutes for it to take full effect. When it did, my legs felt drunk. Seriously! You know that warm sense of well being you get when you drink? That’s exactly how I felt from the waist down.

They finally did a cervical check on me after the epidual was in. They had wanted to minimize those since my water was broken. I was at 5cm, so I had made some progress on my own prior to the epidural, but I still had a long way to go. It was about 10pm by this point and I was tired, but I knew there was likely little rest to be had.

I was now confined to bed, lying basically on my back, although I managed to lay on my sides some, but it was really hard to move even a tiny bit on my own because I was so numb. My doula was wonderful and helped me all through the night as I needed to change position and drink fluids. Chris was great, too, although he passed out for a while. At least one of us got some sleep! I can’t say I really got any, but I at least rested.

Suddenly, around 3:30 or 4am I had to vomit. It came out of nowhere, and my doula found me a bucket just in time. I hate throwing up and, believe it or not, this was the first time I had to my entire pregnancy. After that I started feeling some pressure in the lower right part of my back that persisted. It turns out I was fully dilated! The nurse on call had me do a practice push just to make sure I was really ready and then she went to call my midwife, who I was told would be there by 5:30am. This gave me a chance to rest some more; I actually fell into a light sleep for a while, which was fabulous.

My midwife was supposed to arrive by 5:30am, but she didn’t actually get there until a little after 6:30am. I had gotten a nice doze in, which I needed. When I came to and realized how much time had passed, I knew we needed to get things going. When the nurse came in, we told her we were ready. I had Simone, our doula, wake Chris up; he had been out like a light. He was totally startled and then, when he realized it was time, he jumped up and sprang into action, albeit a little dazed.

Pushing at first wasn’t that bad. I was pretty groggy, so for the first 20 minutes or so it was more like a warm-up. My contractions, which had been about 2 minutes apart, started to space out a bit, so I got some good rest in between. I was even making jokes and laughing. But as time went on, the pushing got serious. My contractions got longer, and my push cycles also got longer and more intense. Simone would hold one of my legs while Chris held the other. My midwife and the nurse would coach me. Oddly enough, it didn’t even phase me that all these eyeballs were staring at my vagina.

I tried a few different positions, but what worked best for me was to lay on my back and put my feet together, kind of like butterfly position when you’re sitting on the floor. Then, with help from my team, I would curl my neck up, pull my feet in, and push like hell. I would get one short cycle in of about five counts, take a breath, do a second cycle of 10 counts, take two breaths, do a third 10-count cycle and a fourth 10-count cycle after another desperate breath. Sometimes I even did another 5-count cycle or two. It was exhausting.

I lost track of how much time passed. I became immersed in the cycle of pushing and the relief of relaxing in between. I had no idea I had been pushing for hours until I realized how tired I was. I had five people (the charge nurse had joined the team) staring at my vagina and yelling, “Push harder! Come on, you can do it! Push! You’re so close! PUSH!”

Let me tell you, I WAS pushing! I was giving it all I had, but I was running out of steam. At least a half hour went by where my team was telling me how close I was. I wanted to swear at them and kick them in the face. I know they meant well, but I could NOT take it anymore! As long as I kept having to push, I was clearly NOT close as far as I was concerned, no matter what they thought. I needed to rest. They finally did let me skip a couple of contractions to get my strength back.

One of the reasons pushing ended up taking 3-3/4 hours is because I developed an infection as a result of my water having been broken for so long. The infection essentially made my uterus less effective and contributed to my exhaustion because I had started running a fever, which I didn’t even know. After being told I was so close for so long, I finally got Shelby’s head around my pubic bone and in mere seconds she slid right out! They put her on my chest right away and I didn’t even know what to think. It was so surreal! She was all slimy and goopy and yet amazingly sticky. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see her very well because she was right under my nose.

Right away my midwife and Suzanne, the nurse who actually had been a very effective coach as much as I had wanted to hurt her, went to work on getting me to deliver the placenta. It was not a pleasant experience. They started massaging my uterus from the outside, and I don’t mean that in a nice, relaxing way. I mean they went to town on it as if they were kneading bread dough. Hello, this was my body and it HURT LIKE HELL! I yelled out loud in agony as they did it over and over again.

It was only at this point that I was told they needed to get the placenta out so they could work on getting my bleeding to stop because it was at a somewhat dangerous level. So I focused on Shelby, but even that was hard. I ended up giving her to Chris after the cord stopped pulsing and he cut it. I had wanted to have lots of skin-to-skin contact with her, but I couldn’t tolerate it with the action going on to my body below.

Even after I delivered my placenta the rough massaging continued as Suzanne tried to staunch the blood flow. I had torn a little, so Cyndi worked on stitching me up. Fortunately, I didn’t feel the tear happen or the stitching that followed. I did, however, want to absolutely throw Suzanne against a wall and pummel her. I was in excruciating pain from the uterus massage. I understood it was necessary, but that didn’t mean I liked it. Chris said he could barely watch it happening to me because my reaction was so extreme. I thought I had passed through the worst, that being the pushing, but the worst was by far the post-Shelby activity.

They finally got me to a point where they were fairly certain I would recover okay, but there was talk of me possibly ending up in the OR depending on how well and how quickly they could get my uterus to contract. It wasn’t doing it on its own they way it should have because of the infection, so they had to put me on meds to get things going. I’m just glad I had Shelby as a distraction, although I still couldn’t focus on her very well.

It took quite a bit of time for me to get cleaned up. Chris packed up our things and transferred them to the post-partum room while I was tended to. I finally got the green light to move to a wheelchair, which was quite difficult to do. I could still barely feel my legs, so it was like standing on jello. Plus, I was wearing the equivalent of a diaper; it was super awkward. I got wheeled to our post-partum room to begin life as a new mom.

Random details I forgot to include:

I lost about 650 (mL? not sure the unit of measurement) of blood during and after labor. Apparently the average woman loses 200-300 during a vaginal birth. That’s why the nurses were so worried about me. They actually mentioned that if they couldn’t get the bleeding under control there was a chance I’d end up in the OR for a hysterectomy. When they said that, a few thoughts raced through my head:

  • I just had my first kid; that means I wouldn’t be able to have more!
  • Holy crap – that’s serious surgery!
  • I have to endure the external uterine massage no matter how painful it is

Once labor was over and I had been cleaned up, I thought I was in a different hospital room. For some reason the room I was in didn’t look like the one I had originally been admitted to. Maybe it was the lighting; I don’t know, but I felt fairly disoriented, which is unusual for me.

During labor, once I got my epidural, I went through a spell of serious shakes. It started as spaghetti legs (like when your legs are exhausted after a long run or a good workout) and progressed to the point that my whole body was shaking out of control. It was as if I was freezing cold, only I wasn’t. But my body shook so hard that my teeth chattered. Even trying to breathe deeply didn’t work, but finally after some time they passed.

I was starving by the time I started pushing. I hadn’t eaten in hours and had thrown up anything that had been in my stomach to give me strength. I was craving hash browns and scrambled eggs. I finally got them, several hours after I had been admitted to the post-partum room. By the time, though, I wasn’t really hungry for them anymore, but I’m really grateful to Chris for going out to get them!

Birth Stories: Ryan

Monday, December 20th, 2010

To help fill in posts while I recover and adjust to life with a newborn AND a toddler I have some friends who have agreed to share their birth stories. First up is Ryan, whose story is so amazing and beautiful it makes me want to have another baby RIGHT NOW just so I can try and do it her way. Fair warning: it’s a birth story so it’s rated PG-13. And don’t get all shocked if someone says “vagina”.

BIRTH STORY: Patience Makes Perfect

(written by Ryan, about the birth of Jude, born 04.28.10)

Dear Jude,
The calendar said you were due to arrive on Saturday, April 17th. Ten days after that date I woke up asking myself the same question I’d asked for the previous nine mornings – Do I feel any differently today? No, the answer came.
I went on with my day nervous and a little scared. Since I was past my due date I had already gone to the hospital for one round of fetal monitoring. If you didn’t come by tomorrow afternoon I would have to go in for another. If you didn’t come by Friday it was likely that I would have to be induced.
Around 11 a.m. I noticed that I’d soaked through the panty liner I was wearing. I mentioned it to your dad when he came home for lunch and he suggested I call our midwives.
We arrived at Rosemary around 1 p.m. and Alina checked the fluid with a test strip. Sure enough, I was leaking a small amount of amniotic fluid. Since it wasn’t gushing, Alina guessed there was a leak in the side of your sack. This was confirmed when she checked my cervix, which was about 2 centimeters dilated, and still felt the bottom of the bag intact. Because of the risk of infection, I would have to start IV antibiotics within 6 hours. If I wasn’t in hard labor within 24 hours I would have to go to the hospital. Your dad and I were worried but Alina put us at ease saying, “you’re going to meet your baby today!”
From that point on we were on a mission to get labor started. Alina gave me some herbs to take every 15 minutes. Your dad dutifully set reminders on his iPhone. After returning home to eat and take a short nap your dad and I walked the Ringling Bridge and swung on the swings at Arlington Park. We even drove up and down Orange Avenue flying over the speed bumps. We were trying everything we could think of to shake you loose!
While Cheryl was on her way over to do some acupuncture, I made the decision to take castor oil to further hasten your arrival. I blended the castor oil into my favorite smoothie – hemp powder, almond milk, almond butter, banana and flax oil – and chugged it down. Within minutes I was upstairs in the bathroom pooping my brains out. By the time Cheryl arrived, around midnight, I was feeling a slight but regular tightening in my belly. Your dad had them timed, again with his trusty iPhone, at about five to ten minutes apart.
As the contractions got stronger I started feeling nauseous. When I was sick enough to throw up I remembered Carmela saying that throwing up was a sign of labor progression. By this time it was about 3 a.m. and I was moaning through contractions that were now a solid five minutes apart. Your dad called Alina who said she would meet us at the birthing home. We were finally in active labor!
Walking through the dimly lit courtyard felt like a dream. The birthing home shone like a giant amethyst. The small pond gurgled exceptionally loudly. Alina had prepared the birthing room. Candles were lit and soft music was playing. Everything was sharp and sparkly but blurry and concave at the same time. I knew the lyrics to the song that was playing yet I’d never heard the tune before. I suddenly remembered the joke I had made in birthing class about how Carmela’s explanation of labor could be confused for a bad acid trip. Not so much of a joke now that I was in it. And although I didn’t consider it bad it certainly was a trip.
In addition to the visual and auditory intensity, time seemed to slow down and speed up all at once. At one point I looked at the clock as I felt a contraction coming on – 4:04 a.m. I could hear the “click, click, click” of the second hand for what seemed like hours as I dove head first into a wave of contraction. As the wave crashed and then faded I looked at the clock again – 4:05. How was that possible?
I wanted desperately to curl up on the bed and sleep but my body wouldn’t let me. The discomfort while lying down was almost unbearable. Instead of sleeping, I went inside myself and played with all the ideas I had about childbirth. I paced, rocked in a glider, hung from the bed posts, leaned over the bed as your dad and Cheryl rubbed my back. Mostly I howled. I was like a she-wolf – bending and baying at the full moon.
I didn’t realize it at the time but was told later that at some point during labor you turned face up. Since it isn’t ideal to deliver a baby in that position, Alina had me flip flop on the bed while she attempted to manually turn you. This was painful and exhausting. Then I labored on the toilet for about an hour. In between pushing contractions, which spaced to nearly 10 minutes apart, I rested. Then, after pushing in bed and in the tub, I climbed up and down the stairs for an hour or so before returning to the tub.
Your head was emerging ever so slowly – one centimeter out, two centimeters back. Cheryl got a mirror to show me the progress and even fashioned a birthing stool from two chairs so I could squat and get you lower. Even though I was determined to see you it felt like I had no control over my pushing. The contractions would force me to the ground, my knees on the hard wood of the stairs, and I would bare down aimlessly. But you knew what you were doing. You worked so hard to carefully stretch my perineum. Thank you.
By this time Harmony, Julia and Heidi had all arrived and were helping me stay focused and hydrated. It felt so good to have one of them put cool washcloths on my face and body. And your dad never left my side. He was my shadow. He rubbed my back and stroked my head. He waddled behind me up and down the stairs. He even held me up while I sat on his knees in a squat and worked through contractions.
Then, back in the tub, I pushed for another hour. As soon as I hit the water I entered a new state of awareness. I was exhausted and I knew it. I wanted you in my arms so badly. This whole thing was taking forever! My contractions slowed, there was an eternity between them, and my body would just curl around itself and flex downward as if on auto pilot. Your head would slide forward with each contraction only to retreat back inside.
After nearly five hours of pushing, the burning on my perineum was intense. I was given oxygen. I started crying. I was desperate and scared. In my head I was screaming at my mom, “why didn’t you tell me it would be this hard!?! Why aren’t you here to help me!?! I need you!!!” I pleaded with my midwives to help me, to do something, but there wasn’t anything they could do. Perhaps an episiotomy would have brought you out more quickly but they knew I didn’t want one.
I wish I had words to describe what I was feeling in that moment. This was, by far, the most difficult part of the entire process. It wasn’t physical pain that blocked my progress, it was emotional pain.
But then something happened. I was asked to stand up. Blood had darkened the tub water. Alina needed to check the bleeding and get your heartbeat. I guess this was a big deal but Harmony and Alina were so calm I didn’t think anything of it and just stood up (with your head hanging half way out of my vagina, by the way, like it was no big deal). Your heartbeat was strong and there wasn’t any major bleeding so I sank back into the tub. I could feel that the change in position had forced you lower and perhaps the distraction helped clear some of my fear. I only knew one thing – that I wanted you in my arms. So I closed my eyes and waited silently for the next contraction.
I don’t remember the pain of your head finally delivering. All I remember is hearing someone scream (presumably me) and then hearing someone (Harmony, I think) say, “Ryan, look down at your baby”. I looked down and as your head slowly turned you looked right at me with two huge black eyes. Your hair was dancing in the water. I had such an intense longing to have you in my arms but when I reached down to pull you up I saw your dad eagerly fixed on your arrival. I let go, leaned back and let him catch you.
As the rest of your body emerged I felt so many things. Every inch of you – neck, shoulders, chest, stomach, waist, butt, legs, feet – was examined by my insides like I was feeling sensation for the first time. Simultaneously it was as if I had left my body and was watching from above. I could see inside myself. But I also clearly remember this strange X-ray image that I was seeing from above was also being projected on the wall in front of me. My bones flexed and bended around your tiny body as its skeleton stretched and compressed and came forth into the world. It was the most transcendental thing I have ever experienced.
In that moment the exhaustion and pain and fear evaporated and they were replaced with pure love. I barely paused long enough to see if you were a girl or a boy! You were wide eyed and alert and nursed beautifully within the first 20 minutes. And as your dad and I chatted and giggled and snuggled you close it was as if we had known you forever.
Love,
Your mother



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