Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Son's Birth Story, Part Two

Please read my previous post if you missed Part One!

I ended up having another night much like the previous one. I was terribly uncomfortable, and couldn't really sleep. I may have dozed off a couple of times, but I never really rested. And I really needed to! I really wish I would have known how to consciously relax at this point.

I was up early the next morning (it's Friday now in case you lost track), and I worked up enough motivation  to get into the tub. That was SO nice! (I felt like I barely fit, but it was awesome nonetheless). It was so relaxing, and I was able to actually drift off into sleep (glorious sleep!) for an extended period of time. I'm pretty sure this didn't do much to speed up my labor, but at this point, I did not. Even. Care! I think in part, I stayed in so long, just because I knew what a hassle it would be to get out! I eventually did get out, and my husband went to go get some breakfast. I ate, and I think sometime around this point is when my labor started "for real".
I had stopped obsessing over keeping track of the timing of the contractions, but I would guess they were pretty regular now, maybe every five minutes or so. And when one came, there was no guessing involved. I remember sitting down on the sofa, and I would get one and jump up immediately and go into the bedroom.

(Warning: Bunny trail ahead!) For those that haven't guessed by now, with regard to temperament, I'm pretty much Phlegmatic, but with a serious streak of Melancholy. Depending on what day it is, maybe the other way around. The Melancholy trait can manifest in me usually being terribly reserved especially when it comes to anything physical. I do not like being physically expressive in front of people! Even my husband to some extent. I have the tendency to be rather private, so when active labor finally started, and contractions came for real, I had this overwhelming urge to retreat like a mama cat! 

So that's what I would do. A contraction would come, and I would move into our bedroom. At some point, I realized that rocking my hips would alleviate some of the discomfort. It was as if I was working with my body to move the baby down in preparation for birth. In fact, this was the main (perhaps only) method I actually used to help with labor.

We had determined that our goal now was to get to the hospital as soon as possible. I was not looking forward to the 45 minute drive, and I wasn't entirely packed and ready yet. But before I got ready, I felt the need to soak in the tub for a little while (Can you say "Phlegmatic?"). So while I did that, my husband packed the car with everything I had ready, including several pillows so I could be comfortable on the way over.

The drive was not too bad. I sat in the back of the car, and actually, I didn't have many contractions for the duration of the trip. Maybe three or four. (Funny how our bodies work, don't you think?) By the time we reached our exit, I was ready to get out of the car! I made my husband stop at the nearest gas station so I could get out and move around. I walked into the convenience store, and another woman was walking out as I was walking in, and I must've been a sight, because all I remember is the look of surprise in her eyes as I walked in. (What? People don't normally go to the convenience store during active labor?)

Anyway, after resting in (of all places) the restroom for several minutes, we started off to make the remainder of the trip to the hospital. It was about a mile from where we were. We arrived, and my husband dropped me off at the curb. I may have been offered a wheel chair, I honestly don't remember- but if it was offered, I most definitely refused!

We came into the admissions area, and oh my...this process seemed to take forever! I left my husband talking to the registrar to go attend to the contractions whenever there was one. We were finally ushered to triage, where we learned there were no labor and delivery rooms open. It was unclear how long it would be before one became available. They said I could sit in the triage room, and I actually had to wait there for my midwife to come in and monitor me. I sat on the monitor (monitoring the baby and my contractions) for probably the longest 20 minutes of my life. Then my midwife checked me, and she said cheerily, "Congratulations! You're going to have your baby today!" I was at 6 centimeters, and she said my bag of waters was no longer intact. (When did it rupture? I assure you, I have no idea! If not in the beginning, then probably in the tub at some point). This was around noon on Friday.

As soon as I could, I got up off the triage bed (which felt like it was a good six feet off the ground!) and got vertical again. Since there were no rooms open, we asked if I could walk through the hallways. They said I could, and so I did. When I would get a contraction, I would stop, lean forward against the wall, and rock my hips. That was my method through pretty much the whole thing! Soon, my older sister came to the hospital to join me (in the hallway) followed by my niece. I didn't talk much to them! I was just a little distracted.

Finally after what seemed like hours (maybe it was!), a room opened up for me. I went in and immediately asked to get into the bathtub. (This hospital has large soaking tubs in all the rooms). I had indicated on my birth plan that I wanted only intermittent fetal monitoring, and so I was checked with a Doppler every 15-20 minutes. Even in the tub. After my first soak in the tub, other comfort measures were offered and tried (like a birthing ball) and failed. Probably by this time, I had more visitors (sisters, mother in law and a couple others). I was so exhausted, and the only thing I could think about was how I really needed to rest for the work ahead.

I asked the nurse what kind of sleep-inducing medication was available. In my naivete, I was thinking like Tylenol PM or something to that effect. The nurse started talking about Stadol and others like that, and of course an epidural. I knew I didn't want that. And one of my sisters warned me that Stadol would just make me nauseous and dizzy and I'd probably throw up. I didn't want that!

I ended up just forgoing all medication. I asked to get into the tub again. Then discreetly, I asked the nurse to have my visitors go out of the room. Honestly, they weren't doing anything wrong, but I just felt like I was in hospitality mode or something. They were visiting me! I was much more relaxed after everyone went out.

I think after my soak in the tub, I was checked and was at nine centimeters. I was told by my midwife that I could try to start pushing if I wanted. Well, that seemed like as good of an idea as any. Except that I didn't really feel the "urge" to do so. (This observation was after the fact, of course). So I began pushing. I had no idea what I was doing. I felt really inhibited too, which didn't help. Plus my contractions never got any closer together than five minutes apart. 

Praise be to God, my little guy's heart rate stayed super steady the entire time I was pushing. It lasted hours. Finally, the midwife said she could see the baby's head, and I asked "what is the hair texture?" My husband in his excitement replied, "it's long!" (It may seem like a totally random question, but this is something I was wondering for my entire pregnancy, as my husband is bi-racial, and I am not). Somehow, I had the wherewithal to inform him that I did not mean the length of the baby's hair, but whether it was curly or straight. I was told that it was straight, and somehow I immediately knew that this baby was a boy. (I had convinced myself that a boy would have my hair texture and color and a girl would have his).

After a couple more contractions (and a little help from a sharp, pokey instrument), my son was born. It was amazing! Someone in the room said "it's a boy!" and I could hear my previously banished friends and family on the other side of the door cheering. They were only waiting for three and a half hours! He was born at 9:46 p.m. weighing in at 7 lbs, 15 oz, and I was completely overjoyed. It was a long, exhausting labor, but worth every minute.
Five days old
And a little more recent snapshot!

And with that, I wish my little blessing a Happy Fourth Birthday!

What's your experience with childbirth?