Saturday, June 25, 2005

Pearl's Birth Story

Pearl is four weeks old today and in honor of that I'll post my birth story. It's quite long.

My labor started at 4pm Friday, May 27, with contractions about three minutes apart and a minute in length. When this pattern had continued for about three hours I accepted the fact that this was very likely it! I'd been having shorter periods of similar contractions for weeks, and was 4-5cm dilated with a bulging bag of waters at my appointment the day before.

I just hung around the house, bouncing on the birth ball, made a salad for supper... Me and Mr. Peach took a walk around our yard and the field behind our house. It was sunset, a lovely warm evening with nice clouds.. we saw a rainbow...

Sometime near 9:00pm the contractions began to get more serious and I needed Mr. Peach's help with them. He would rub my back as I had them and give encouragement. I took a shower and the hot water felt wonderful on my back.

I kept waiting for transition, which I thought would be fairly obvious, and was looking out for that self-doubt emotional signpost as described by the Bradley method, but I never really saw it... I certainly felt doubt but I couldn't confine it to a certain period of time during my labor!

At about ten we got in bed. Just before that I brushed my teeth and peed, and there was some blood, so I knew my cervix was dilating. Mr. Peach read through our baby names book while I tried to get some rest. After a while I decided I'd better time some contractions. They were still a minute in length, and now coming two and a half minutes apart. They were also much stronger than they had started out. We decided it was a good time to get in contact with our nurse midwife.

So I called the hospital and told her what was going on, and that we wanted to labor at home as long as possible but didn't know when the best time to leave would be as we live 30 minutes from the hospital. She said that it sounded like we had a bit more time, so to just leave whenever we were ready, and she'd let the hospital know we were on the way.

We leisurely got our last minute things together and packed into the car (by we I mean my husband, with me directing!) and oh, the contractions were getting painful at this point! So Mr. Peach suggests we go ahead and leave and I agree, as I wanted a non-hurried drive to the hospital on our curvy road. He took it easy but I still yelled at him once because being slung around a curve while you're having a contraction is not fun.

He was doing a good job of helping me, reminding me to breathe deeply and to try and relax. Both of those things were way harder to do during a contraction than I thought they'd be.

We arrived at the hospital and as it was near midnight we had to enter through the emergency entrance, which was FULL of all sorts of people, it being a Friday night. I did my best to ignore them as someone got me a wheelchair and we started on our way to labor and deliver. The wheelchair was losing parts as we went. Very reassuring. It needed some shocks or cushioning too.

Anyways, we got into a labor/delivery room and they had me change into a hospital gown, asked me some questions, had me get in bed and hooked me up to monitors for the contractions and baby's heartbeat. A nurse checked me for dilation and found me to be 6-7, probably 7cm. I had hoped to be further along than that so it was vaguely disappointing but at that point I was kind of not caring about anything but the contractions. Now I feel silly for even being a little disappointed because that's a lot dilated, but I was wanting to get the whole thing over with by that point.

My waters hadn't broken and the baby's head still wasn't engaged. They told me they didn't want me up and walking around because if my water broke while she was floating so high there was a risk of a prolapsed cord, which I knew, so was agreeable when they told me I'd have to stay in bed for a while... but not a long while, as it turned out!

I was lying on my side and the nurse was trying to get a heparin lock in my hand, first my right wrist, but that didn't work (and yeah, that was fun) so she tried my left hand and it went in fine. While she was doing that I thought my waters had broken. I didn't feel a pop but was definitely feeling gushes of liquid whenever I would have a contraction, so I told the nurse I thought it had happened and she checked, and sure enough that was it, or at least part of my waters. The nurse said she was going to go ahead and drain the rest of the water so that the baby's head would come down onto the cervix and we wouldn't have to worry about the cord slipping out. I'm not completely sure how she accomplished this but she did, and man, was it a lot of water! A lake of it. My CNM said we timed my arrival at the hospital perfectly!

After that I my contractions did indeed intensify. It's all kind of a blur. I was very thirsty, but they told me I could only have ice chips... so I got a cup of them and drank the water as the ice melted, ha. The gown was driving me crazy so I had Mr. Peach take it off at one point. I had no modesty whatsoever by then; had bigger things to worry about. I labored on the bed, mostly on my knees, leaning up on the raised head part of the bed. Now that I was free to move around as I wished, I wanted to take a shower, so me and Mr. Peach headed that way. The water again felt great, but I don't think I stayed in very long, my legs were very weak and shaky. I also felt pretty nauseous around that point. So Mr. Peach dried me off, then back to the bed I went. It was even harder to relax my body and let the contractions do their work after my water broke, because I automatically wanted to tense my muscles and not leak!

The nurse came in and asked if I was feeling an urge to push yet and I told her I didn't know, maybe. For the past few contractions I'd been feeling a sort of involuntary clamping down in the lower part of my uterus but didn't know what feeling I was supposed to be looking for and wasn't sure if that was it. She told me to let them know when I felt it to a point where I couldn't help but push and left, then later when she came in to check on me I told her I felt like pushing and she checked my cervix and said I was completely dilated. She said I could push with the contractions in whatever position I felt like. I think this was around two o clock am.

I stayed on my knees, leaning up over the bed. I would push with the contractions to a point, and kind of doze off in between them. I knew I wasn't fully pushing but kind of didn't care. The nurse said I needed to really push and not back off at the peak of the contractions, as she said she could tell I was doing. The baby's head was still pretty far up, and I could feel it slipping back when I would stop pushing.

I changed positions a few times, at my own wish and the suggestion of the nurse. Sitting on the lower part of the bed, with the foot below, that was ok but didn't seem really effective. I tried squatting once, with my feet on that lowest part of the bed and Mr. Peach holding my hands, but I don't think I even made it to the pushing part in that position because the pressure was just too intense. And amniotic fluid that was still gushing out was drenching the bed, it was cold and wet and not at all comfortable.

I was starting to get with it. I knew the baby needed to come out. I knew the hospital staff was watching the clock, and the baby's heart rate had started to dip after the contractions. So my nurse and nurse-midwife stayed in there with me and directed me. They had me lay back on the upraised bed, with my feet down on the bottommost portion of the bed, and had me raise my legs and grab onto the handholds when pushing. They said this would help get the baby underneath the pubic bone. The nurse would count to ten, then have me breathe, and go right back into pushing, which was hard. Ten seemed a little long and then having to stop, breathe, and resume pushing was tough.

Telling when I was having a contraction was sometimes hard, too... the thing I could feel better was the nurse and nurse midwife doing perineal massage, that was sort of painful as well but I'm glad they did it! I don't know how long I pushed, I guess I really pushed strongly for about an hour. My CNM was very encouraging and supportive and would tell me when a push was particularly effective so that I would know what it should feel like. They told me how to curl my body around my baby and keep my elbows flexed and chin tucked, and Mr. Peach said he could tell that the pushes were working much better when I was positioned like that. At some point during the pushing I could feel the head very close to being out, but I'd told the nurse I didn't want a mirror when she asked... I kind of would've liked to see the birth, but at the time I was just so focused on getting the baby out I didn't want to have any distractions, my eyes were closed most of the time and I was resting between pushes. So I do wish I could've seen more of it, but I certainly know what it felt like! Once she was in the birth canal I did reach down and feel her head, and that was cool. The nurse was supporting one of my legs, and Mr. Peach was supporting the other. He took over the counting somewhere along the way, too.

Oh, how it hurt when her head started coming out! At that point not pushing didn't ease the pain, so I just pushed as hard as I could, and then out came her head, a short while later the shoulders, and then the rest of her slipped out - at this point I had pushed myself up and was looking, wanting to see my baby and there she was! I was laughing and crying and very relieved that it was over and that my baby was here and safe.

She was a little blue at first, but pinked up quickly. Her body was still pretty covered in vernix. They suctioned her some and put a hat on her, dried her off some. My husband cut the cord after waiting a few minutes, then the CNM handed her to me. The nurses toweled her off while she was in my arms. She squeaked a little, but didn't cry. After I'd held her a while they took her to the warmer and dried her off and suctioned her again, and then she cried. My CNM checked me and told me I had two small labial tears, nothing serious enough to need stitches. Then she had to skidaddle, as her plane was leaving in two hours - I barely managed to have the baby with her attending my birth but I'm glad I did!

Then they returned her to me and left us to bond. I put her to my breast and she nursed for the first time. Mr. Peach finally called our family members. He'd wanted to earlier on, but I wanted to wait until we were at the hospital, then once we were at the hospital the thought of him being on the phone when I needed him to put counter pressure on my back if I had a contraction was unbearable!

After a while the nurses returned, and they took her to the nursery with Mr. Peach accompanying her to get all the tests done and everything. And then the most painful part of the labor - the nurse massaging my uterus. That hurt so badly at one point I cried and several times I had to tell her to stop. That nurse had another nurse look at how much blood I was loosing to see if I should get some pitocin and that nurse said yep. They told me it would cut down on the amount of mashing on my belly they'd have to do so I was ok with that, but she still did it several more times over the next few hours. She was nice and sympathetic and everything, but it was totally the most painful part of the whole thing.

They put me in their one double postpartum room - with my sister who had delivered her baby by c-section about three days before! So we shared that room for half a day which was pretty neat, everyone had been joking about us sharing that room for a while!

So overall my hospital birth was not bad at all. I didn't get drugs pushed on me. All the nurses said they were impressed that I was completely dilated for two hours and they couldn't hear a peep from me out at their station! I think I kind of whimpered/groaned with some contractions, and grunted with the effort of pushing, but didn't yell or anything. The worst thing.. and the thing that has cinched my desire for a homebirth next time, is them taking my baby away. I missed her so much at those times.


Post a Comment

<< Home