Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Birth Story, Part 1

I wrote this out for myself and it was something like 17,000 words, so I thought I had better write an abridged version here. I can honestly say that it was the most amazing time of my life and while it didn't happen the way I had pictured it in my head, I am so happy and content with how it did work out.

Monday, August 29th was my due date. I was having Braxton Hicks contractions, but nothing painful. I had my 40 week check-up that morning where I learned that I was 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced. While that showed my body was making some progress, labor did not seem imminent and so the conversation turned towards induction. It was decided that unless the baby came mid-week, I would come back for tests on Friday and then most likely be induced the following Tuesday, September 6th (day after Labor Day).

I was disappointed since I wanted a totally natural birth, but tried to stay optimistic. I worked that Monday and decided that I would work from home for the next few days so I could focus on kick starting labor (Rob and I took many, many walks towards the end). On Wednesday I was so stressed out about not being in labor that I decided I would just take vacation days Thursday and Friday and focus on myself for the last few days before I became a mother (assuming that Tuesday would indeed be the day).

Ha. 5:30 am Thursday morning I woke up with a cramping sensation in my lower abdomen. I was pretty sure it was nothing, because my body was going to fail me and I was definitely going to be induced, remember? When the pain didn't subside after 45 minutes I decided to wake Rob up. Not because I thought I was in labor, but because I knew he would be mad if I didn't. He woke up and we timed a few of the "contractions."

Totally inconsistent.

So we took a walk around the block and timed a few more.

Still inconsistent.

So I sent Rob to work. He reluctantly obliged, but gave me strict orders to stay on my birthing ball and not to even think about anything not related to having "his" baby. All morning long I kept having these contractions. They never were consistent, but they did become increasingly painful as the morning wore on. Shortly before noon I decided that I better shower in case I did end up at the hospital. I called Rob and let him know that the contractions were not subsiding, just as an FYI, and of course he took it as a sign to come home. While he showered up, I called my mom and she offered to come over. By the time she arrived, with my sister in tow, it was about 3pm. The four of decided to see if a nice long walk would help move things along so we headed over to a local mall, Colorado Mills. Incidentally, Colorado Mills is where Rob and I met back in 2006.

My contractions were distractingly painful at that point, but according to my mothers stopwatch app, still not consistent. Rob insisted that I call the doctor, who suggested that I head to the hospital anyway. As she put it, since I was past due, they wouldn't send me home anyway. That really hit me hard. I was going to be a mother that night, one way or another. Either my body would do the job on its own, or I would be induced. Either way we were leaving the hospital as a family of three.

We arrived at the hospital around 6pm and the receptionist asked who we were there to visit. I was in such a daze that all I could do was point to my stomach. I couldn't even manage the words to explain that I was in labor. I couldn't even think that to myself, that I was in labor. It was very surreal.
Once settled into the L&D room, a nurse did a cervical check and gave me some really disappointing news: I was only 2 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I was terrified, sure that pitocin was in my future. The nurse suggested I take a walk, and we took a short stroll around the L&D floor. After about 10 minutes, I suggested we watch some television. I figured that if contractions all day long only opened me 1 cm, walking wasn't really going to do much for me at that point. Besides, I was actually pretty tired at that point.

We went back to the room and put on a movie my mom had brought, Drive Angry. It was actually pretty perfect as a distraction from the pain, and I don't normally even like action movies. It was a little strange since nurses seemed to walk in for all the worst moments (lots of blood and boobs), but I was in too much pain to even really notice. At 7 pm the night nurse, Amber, took over (I can't say enough nice things about Amber. She was so amazing throughout the whole experience).

By 7, the contractions were really painful. I also felt nauseated and after throwing up the first time ( I believe I threw up a total of 3-4 times before it was all said and done), Amber determined that I was dehydrated. I ended up with IV fluids, which was not part of my birth plan, but I can only blame myself for not drinking enough water that day (unusual for me, but I was distracted). After an hour, another check and more disappointing news: only 2.5 dilated. I was so upset. How could I be in so much pain and still barely be in labor? Part of the answer to that had to do with the fact that somewhere along the line, the baby had turned and was now facing the wrong way. That meant that I was having the dreaded "back labor."

To distract myself from the pain and the disappointment, I asked if I could labor in the tub for a while (Every L&D room has a Whirlpool tub for that very purpose). I hopped in and felt some relief immediately. I had planned on being modest and wearing a bikini, but by that point I was over caring who saw what. The only people in the room besides the medical team where Rob, my mother, and my sister anyway, so no one who was going to judge what they saw. Besides, since they all planned on watching the birth, a naked me was the least of the sights they would be seeing.

I lost track of time, but I must have been in the tub for at least 45 minutes. At that point, the intensity of the pain picked up, and my stamina was shot. I got out of the tub, threw up again, and received anti-nausea meds. Strike two against my birth plan. I was happy with my decision though, because vomiting mid-contraction was one of the more unpleasant experiences of my life. Amber suggested I spend a few contractions on all fours since that position can sometime turn a sunny-side up baby around. Perfect, I thought - laboring in different positions was one of the natural pain management techniques I had wanted to try. That lasted all of about 5 minutes before I determined that I was in too much pain to do anything besides curl up on my side and zone out. No breathing, no massage, no room for anything but the occasional outburst of "Please stop this! I can't do it anymore!"

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