Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Another Birth Story

In case you missed it on Friday, here is the preamble to my third birth story.

The biggest shock with Baby E was that she came late. It happens all the time, I know. But this was my third baby... and both of the first two were early. So when I hit my due date and then passed it... we were kind of stunned.

On Wednesday evening, two days overdue, Niall and I were having a quiet night at home... waiting. Before going to bed I noticed some contractions. I'd been having braxton hicks for weeks, but these were accompanied by back pain. Since I had experienced back labor with both of my other babies, I had a sense that we might be heading for the real deal.

If labor was coming I knew that I should rest while I could. So I laid down, quietly observing my contractions, bummed that they weren't at all consistent or coming on faster, and eventually drifted off.

At 2:00ish, I woke up. Intense back pain, contractions that made me feel nauseous. I observed, counted, and tried to get comfortable for a good half an hour. To call or not to call?

My bind was this: we had had a false alarm several nights ago, and it had been a huge disappointment. What if this was just another false alarm? Further complicating things was that 1) my doctor had warned me that labor would probably go very quickly once it kicked into gear, and 2) we had to wake up S and W and drive them to a baby sitters, which would take an extra half an hour or so.

I called my OB, we hemmed and hawed, and in the end agreed that I should come in. We woke the kids up, grabbed the bag we had packed for them as well as my hospital stuff, and headed out the door. We arrived at the hospital around 3:30.

At which point my contractions had fizzled out almost completely.

This was seriously discouraging. The thought of being wrong AGAIN, especially since we had dragged our kids out in the middle of the night and had to wake our very gracious friends to watch them, was pretty depressing.

My doctor checked me, and good news: I was 5-6 cm, which is the point that they keep you. Also, my water sac was still hanging down nice and low into the birth canal. The OB said she would like to break it. And while I know the controversy surrounding that, disappointment over false alarms, and knowing how fast labor had gone with my son when my water broke spontaneously made my decision easy: YES PLEASE!

As previously discussed, I'd spent the past nine months debating what I would go with for pain management. IV drugs? Epidural? Shoot for another drug free delivery?

In that moment, all I could think about was my many epidural loving friends who had told me "After I got the epidural, it was AMAZING." Amazing sounded good to me. Frankly, I remembered how intense, painful, and difficult my son's traumatic birth had been- and I had no desire {or energy} for that again. The nurse started pumping me with the IV fluids necessary for the epidural.

Not one bump, but two- ah, postpartum body. Also who needs a baby wrap?
My contractions were intense, but rocking on the birth ball was helpful. There was more space between contractions with this labor than I had had with my son's, which meant I had a break and could get really relaxed in between contractions- lovely. It also helped that I had a GREAT nurse this time who helpfully reminded me to relax my shoulders, breathe, etc. She said I seemed to be managing great... but all I could think about was how much I wanted my drugs! Ha ha.

Eventually I got in the bed for comfort, and just wiggled my hips with each contraction. Don't know why, but it seemed helpful at the time.

Finally, FINALLY I had been given sufficient IV fluids for the epidural. My doctor asked to check my progress before the epi was administered, but I declined. "Ain't nothing getting between me and the drugs", I thought adamantly. The anesthesiologist arrived promptly.

As soon as I sat up I felt it. Her head. Right there. I tried to hold still for the needle, but the contractions were SO INTENSE and painful and she was RIGHT THERE and oh how I screamed.

I had had everything done except the medicine when they had to lie me down, send the anesthesiologist away, and my doctor ran in. Baby was there and it was time. So I had had a big stick in my back and held still through the agonizing last contractions for NOTHING. I was not AT ALL mentally prepared to push au naturelle again.

But it was go time. Despite my screams that I could NOT, would NOT push, they made me do it... and within 6 minutes E came squalling into the world.

While it was twice as fast as last time, and giving birth drug free in a rigid hospital setting is pretty much a nightmare in my experience, several factors made this go round easier than last time:

  • There was space in between my contractions. Instead of coming one on top of another, making movement and rest completely impossible, these contractions were spaced and inconsistent right up to the end. Sometimes I had 3 minutes between, sometimes 5. The little breaks were really a gift.
  • I was able to think clearly. When pushing W, I just felt completely stunned and in shock. I couldn't think a blessed cohesive thought. This time I distinctly remember being annoyed because the Ina May videos I'd been watching the night before recommended an entirely different way of handling birth than what the hospital staff was urging. I wanted to squat because in my head I knew that gravity would help and give me a measure of relief, but I wasn't allowed to. I also was able to think about the coming baby, and anticipate meeting her. It was as if time stood still, and I could think with blissful clarity in the quiet of my mind. Such a huge difference.
  • I was excited to meet my baby! Huge. All I could think last time was: this is crazy. Make it stop. 
  • The feeling of relief and total body relaxation that washed over me after she was out was immense. After W came out, I just felt shock. This time it was a total glorious rush to just. be. done. That physical sensation was just as intense in beauty and glory as the contracting and pushing had been painful. I will never forget it.
  • The repair was much faster at the end. With W I had an internal tear. Because it was hard to see, I was bleeding so much, and I hadn't had the numbing epidural, it took my doc almost an hour to do one stitch. Total agony. This time the tear was external, easy to see and fix, and it was taken care of almost painlessly, and much more quickly. 
All in all, it was easier to cope with than last time. But I still never want to do that again! Ha. I would like to have more babies... but yikes, giving birth can be brutal.

I've decided that if there is a next time and if I have to deliver at the same hospital {maybe we will move somewhere with a nice cozy birth center? water birth sounds divine!}, I will not agree to have my water broken unless I've already been hooked up to the epidural. 

Because seriously, for the love of everything, never again. If my water breaks on its own in a future, theoretical pregnancy, that will be very very sad. 

The End.

Right after delivery. Not a pretty picture, but a true one my friends.

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