Friday, September 14, 2012

Nemo's Birth Story

    Nemo’s birth story really starts about two weeks prior to her birth. I had noticed early on in pregnancy that this baby would refuse to get into the most uncomplicated position for birthing, which is called occiput anterior. My midwife was never bothered by this as this is my second baby and they tend to have much more room in utero in which to move around. As labour progressed I found Nemo moving only from one side to the other which is called right or left OP (occiput posterior). I had done lots of reading at and tried to stay in proper positioning but as one of their articles states that some things are harder to overcome than others: my job, working with moving people, and carting around a toddler. My midwife was never concerned as many babies will only move when mom is in labour. I did as much as I could anyway to work on my posture and try to get baby to move. I did more and more as labour progressed and baby still refused to move. It was about a week and a half before my due date, so I was full term and I was recently off work and was having a lot of trouble walking for half the day. I figured baby Nemo would come soon! I had to renew my insurance and forced myself to get a few more things done in case this was the time. When I got up and pretended like I could walk properly and wasn’t having irregular contractions everything winded down and nothing happened.
    My first baby was born a day before her due date so inevitably when baby’s due date came I was a bit upset, especially after being convinced that this baby would be coming any day for a week and a half. On my due date I had my appointment with my midwife and I really didn’t want to be checked more than a couple of times, but being where I was in my headspace I agreed and she reported that I had a “soft” cervix and was 2 cm dilated. I was kind of bummed big time with this news as I was secretly hoping that my baby was coming and I wasn’t feeling much and baby would just come quick (I was hopeful, you can laugh!). So, I agreed to a membrane sweep as my midwife said that if baby is coming then this would likely get things going and it’s a relatively mild intervention. Some things changed but it ended up being similar to the week and a half before this; by the end of the day everything calmed down. At this point I was starting to get really down on myself as I had so many caring people pestering me which was only increasing my anxiety. ***I have to say that people take things so personally during this time when really I am the only one going through this. I’m not sure why most people seem to forget so easily what it’s like to be pregnant or support someone going through pregnancy. Nobody needs your worries placed upon them, nobody wants to be called huge, nobody wants to hear your terrible birth stories or ones you’ve heard of. It doesn’t help. I have to add that because it absolutely astounds me that most people completely forget their manners and think they have a right to control your life the second you decide to carry one. I am still a person and I will take what you say to heart and likely won’t forget it for a long time, if ever. *** Like I said, I was getting really down on myself and wanted to hole myself up, but needed help so I woke up bawling every day after my due date because I was still pregnant knowing that people would be calling, texting and messaging me.
    Finally 4 days after my due date had passed, I woke up in the middle of the night at 1:30 to some contractions. I got excited and nervous and the contractions were insanely painful. I realized that because my baby Nemo refused to get into the best position for labour and birthing that I was in for a long ride. So, I turned on my hypnobabies and it took me a number of contractions to figure out how to relax and breathe through them. I started timing them as I was still quite tired and didn’t want to have an unassisted birth in the middle of the night and they slowed down ranging from 8-16 minutes apart and were staying around 30-35 seconds long. Every third or fourth contraction I had to go to the bathroom and I did. Despite this routine, I was able to sleep between each contraction which wasn’t a great sleep, but it did allow me to rest enough to get up in the morning and tend a bit to my toddler between 7 and 8 am. DH and I probably should have realized that something was coming sooner than later as I definitely couldn’t talk through the contractions, but we both kind of assumed it was because my toddler wasn’t allowing me to focus, relax and breathe through them. So, DH had the grand idea to leave me alone and run an errand or two with our daughter to let me relax. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea, but the contractions made it really hard to carry on a proper conversation. I decided to call my midwife and see what she thought, but because the contractions I had been keeping an eye on were all still about 30-35 seconds long and still not regular (which was a lie thinking back now, I just was in a different land by this time I think) my midwife said just let her know when things start picking up. After this I felt so alone and started sobbing which made the contractions almost unbearable. I stopped crying and having contractions long enough to text DH to come home now and luckily he was pulling in the driveway. I told him that he wasn’t allowed to leave me and luckily I had the sense to text my FIL to take my daughter for the morning, so within 10  minutes that was set.    
    The contractions didn’t seem to be slowing down any and were coming between 2:30-5 minutes apart and lasting around 50 seconds. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to do this anymore and was seriously considering the 40 minute drive to the hospital. I was undecided for this birth whether or not I should have a doula and couldn’t afford to spend $500 on the only one that was available who lived an hour away. Luckily, a few days before my midwife contacted another midwife who knew of a nurse training to become a midwife assistant who needed experience at births. She said she would like to come and that she has had a home birth before, so we agreed that she would be my doula or another set of hands for the midwives. I texted her as I knew she had a home birth and survived and I needed to know how women did this! Shortly after I got DH to call my midwife as I needed to know how far along I was because the hospital drugs were sounding mighty tempting.
    It seemed that everyone took forever to get to my place after calling, but they eventually arrived around 9:40 am and my midwife checked me and she said I was 7 out of 10 centimeters dilated. I thought, what?!?! How is this possible?! I only made it to 6 cm with my first daughter and I was currently 1 cm away from being too far gone to get anything helpful from the hospital anyway. Then everyone went into action. DH frantically got around to filling up the birth pool, moving things out of the way, and the two midwives were setting up their medical equipment. I was so glad to have my support “doula” (the midwife assistant in training). She stayed with me and listened to me repeat again and again how I wasn’t sure I could do this; When could I get into the pool; How did you do this naturally; How did all the other women in the world do this? On top of that she brought me San Pelligrino. It’s the only thing I’ve ever craved in pregnancy and I went through a lot of it! I was also trying not to push which I think is why my left leg and back hurt so much afterward for a couple days. The other midwife showed me to lean on my support person and try to drop my hips and sway. I did this a couple times and it was incredibly hard to do. It kept feeling like the baby was just going to drop out and I didn’t feel like it was quite the right time yet. I was also told that as I was doing this they could actually see the baby drop further into my pelvis (I thought this was so cool and it gave me hope!). The birth pool was still not ready and there was no hot water left for a shower. DH was still busy boiling huge pots of water on the stove to fill up the pool! I don’t have much of a sense of time, but I think a few minutes after I realized I couldn’t use any warm water to comfort myself through these intense contractions I really wanted to lay down. Learning how to breathe through contractions was so vital, but I was still tensing up afraid to let go.
I walked over to the bed and my midwife checked me for the third time in total this entire pregnancy. She said that I was fully dilated on one side, but was at 8 cm on the other, but that part of the cervix was really stretchy. Everyone was trying to convince me that it would help things along if they just broke my bag of waters. I’m not sure how long the women had to convince me that it was a good idea (I had read and heard from a few women about how if the cervix wasn’t fully dilated that baby’s head pushing on it can make it swell and not let baby’s head down). I finally asked that if my cervix was that soft and stretchy that meant that it could be held back so I could push the baby down. And I think my midwife sighed a breath of relief and enthusiastically said, yes! (I bet that’s such an annoying part of her job!)
I had my waters broken and the pain increased, but in a completely different way. It now felt like the end of the marathon, there’s no turning back, I made it so far (after my second birth, I now get the marathon link haha!). I did what any person would do, I pushed harder than I ever thought possible and crying out (I think). I was pushing and it felt so good to let go and not hold back or tense up. DH finally stopped boiling water and held me up off my back so I could be on my side somewhat comfortably. At this point in time I reversed back to my nursing ways and was like “BUT HOW FAR ALONG AM I??” And everyone was telling me I was there, baby just needed to come down a little more. I needed to know so pressed on, “WELL WHAT STATION IS SHE AT???” Looking back this was probably pretty funny. It doesn’t matter! Focus on your pushing is probably what my midwife should have said to me, but instead she just told me 0. I guess at this point it was the ring of fire everyone talks about, but I’m not sure I can explain it to anyone who hasn’t felt it, but it was so relieving to push that it’s hard for me to describe it as painful as I knew then everything was so close. Now baby is crowning and all I can feel is pressure, I guess my baby turned 180 degrees (my midwife has never seen this before). then as she’s coming out I’m trying desperately not to push as per my instructions because now that the head is out my midwife can see that this baby has her arm tucked up around her neck with her hand up beside the opposite shoulder (again going from what I was told, I couldn’t feel that). It felt like forever that they were making me pant and not push so when another contraction came on I said I had to push and out came my baby at 11:03 am!
Baby Nemo had the cord wrapped all the way around her body and my midwife figures it was possibly wrapped around somewhere else to for her to do a 180 turn on my perineum. She came out quite purple and was plunked right on my belly and chest where she pooped twice and peed once. She was so tiny and perfect, I remember her crying after a few seconds and she pinked up quite quickly. I was bawling, I think and just kept repeating, “I did it!!! I can’t believe we did it!!! Thank you, you were all so amazing!!!”
I figured I would have torn all the way and really badly since having my episiotomy with my first, but I had only superficial tears and one small second degree tear that needed 3 stitches. I’m actually pretty proud of that considering all that baby was up to on her way out of my body! Now after the birth, the healing has been amazing. My bottom end hardly hurt and like I said before it was mostly my back that hurt and a bit through my leg. After all was said and done though, this birth felt so anticlimactic. It was the longest fight of my life veering off snide comments about how I would traumatize my older daughter, how it was scary to think of what could happen to baby because we were at home, and on and on for 7 months or so. I wish more people would understand the facts that in healthy pregnancies home births are just as safe as hospital ones. And it’s really amazing what our bodies can do if we take care of them and have faith in them. I’m truly blessed to have experienced this and I’m so happy with my two girls!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Labour is not comparable to running a marathon

I know a lot of friends/family won't want to read about the birth story of my baby girl, and that's fine, but know that you've been warned at this point if you're uncomfortable with the topic to stop reading. I believe that birth should be shared and this might help women like myself to be able to better accept birth as natural and normal. I will also go over what I have learned throughout my experience and what I hope to change for the next time around. All of this means if you do continue to read my post, I would appreciate no rude or discriminating comments (not that I've gotten any, but this is very personal and my sharing this with the world is a ginormous step for me). Thank you.
Physically, things went amazingly well through my pregnancy. I was shocked because you are typically supposed to have all sorts of awful symptoms and you wouldn't have a doubt in your mind that you were pregnant (I'm sorry if you did experience these!). I was so convinced that I must be dying of some end stage female cancer that it honestly never crossed my mind that I could be pregnant though I knew with my presenting symptoms that my doctor would be doing a pregnancy test. My only symptoms were that I caught a nasty cold that I couldn't get rid of which made it hard to breathe and the reason I thought I had some female cancer related to this was short periods (3-4 days) and the fact that I could feel pressure in my low right pelvis.

I went into labour thinking throughout my pregnancy that because I was able to complete a half marathon, that labour would take the same strength and dedication. I mean, everyone tells you that labour is like running a marathon. I figured since I had completed a half marathon that I was set!

Me finishing my first half marathon!

Once labour was established, I was fine, it was painful- don't get me wrong, but at this point it was totally manageable (started about 6pm). At 11pm when my water finally broke, I was 6 cm dilated and the pain rose exponentially. At this point, I realized that labouring and giving birth was nothing like running long distances. They are completely different, but maybe if I was able to train for my labour like I did for my half marathon, I would have had a better go.

Training for my half marathon wasn't easy, but I had plenty of it (training) and felt quite prepared. During labour and birth I got so lost because of my personal fears and lack of being around natural births and natural birthing information. So, by 3 am I was begging to go to the hospital for something, anything. We live 35 minutes away from the hospital and I don't think I could sit down much less put a seatbelt on. I was in so much pain that I was vomiting and proceeded to do so in the car, too! This was definitely an awful car ride (I imagine it was for Baby Daddy too! Sorry hun!). How I wish I had close friends to call in the middle of the night who knew about this natural birth I so needed.

We go to the hospital and I'm wheeled up on what felt like the coldest night (yes, this was June!) to the perinatal unit. It was such a blur and I am still irrationally aware that people I work with may see me in a compromised/indisposed state. I am so happy that we aren't going through the ER but when we get up to the unit I desperately try not to look around for people I know until I get into my room. I end up getting an epidural because that's what I'm offered and I can't think clearly anymore of other options. I'm shaking because of the pain and am terrified that I'm going to become paraplegic because the anesthesiologist will miss and hit my spine. I am temporarily taken away from these thoughts because as I lean over more amniotic fluid gushes over my midwife's shoes and pants. I am SO embarrassed. Fortunately, the pain goes away, but this makes me realize what's going on and how exposed I will be in the setting I really did not want to end up in. There was nothing going wrong except that I couldn't handle the pain. I remember saying something like this upon my arrival and all the nurses in unison awwwed and one said, "You aren't a failure, hunny. You are doing the best you can." Or something like that. I felt like a failure. I still kind of do because I wish I had learned more and opened up more before trying to do it all on my own.

Okay, so, I get the epidural and it was a great one at that. I have since found out it's called a 'walking epidural'. Don't let the name fool you, you're not allowed to walk. I am then strapped down with fetal monitors and have a nurse feeling my belly with every contraction that I can no longer feel. Everything felt like it was 'pins and needles' and if I just moved a bit more, I could wake up my legs and walk around. No dice, I just made the nurses job harder as with all my moving around they had to keep adjusting the fetal monitors. I also had to have a catheter put in which my mind is screaming "germs! Easy path for infection!" But that goes in anyway. I still to this minute don't know if they deflated the catheter balloon when I was pushing. I can only assume they did for my pelvic floor and for my baby's head's sake.

After the epidural was in, everybody was able to rest. Of course, everyone besides me and the nurses. I couldn't sleep so I chatted a bit with the nurses and had to know everything they knew. I at least was resting from the pain and was able to lay down now. At 6 am I was checked for end of shift routines and I was almost ready to push whenever I "felt" ready. I waited, like any good nurse would, for shift change and as the new nurses were coming on I was asked: "Your old classmate (whom I've gone to school with for 4 years!) is supposed to be your nurse this morning. She's okay with it if you are." I'm thinking, of course she's okay with it! But, why would I be? It's not like I was ever close enough with anyone in my class to let them see me push a baby out of my vagina while supporting me like I needed. Obviously, my answer was a resounding no. Then what felt like two minutes later another nurse comes in and asks me if a student could come and watch. I just looked up desperately to Baby Daddy and he says, "You don't have to say yes." Which I reply, "Of course I'm NOT going to say yes! I would appreciate it if everyone would stop bothering me with redundant questions!" (This is paraphrased. I doubt I was able to manage such a long sentence after being awake for more than 24 hours!)

After I settle back into things with the morning shift nurses and am checked for (what felt like) the millionth time I have the go ahead that I can push as the baby is in the right position. I haven't a clue how to push I am pulling up on the bar in a squatting position, I am laying back on the bed, I am laying on my side and then the other, but in this position I must keep my leg up on the incredibly high bar that my foot can barely reach which makes staying in this position incredibly tiring. I end up pushing for 2 hours when a new anesthesiologist comes into my room and as she's nattering off who she is she is giving me more medication to numb me. No one consulted me. A ton of people then entered the room, half of whom I know. I started bawling, I didn't want to be seen like this. No one spoke to me at this point other than to tell me I was having another contraction and should be pushing. I was exhausted and could no longer feel 'pins and needles' I felt nothing. I felt less than human. I had to relearn how to push - make my muscles work when I couldn't feel them even in the slightest anymore. I felt betrayed. I felt completely out of control. I hated the decision "I" made to have an epidural. I should have known how to deal with this pain, I should have done what was right for my baby. After another half of an hour of trying my hardest to push DD out I was done. I couldn't do anything anymore. I had been in labour for 16 hours and was ready to let them cut me open. Instead of a c-section, they gave me an episiotomy. This is where they figured I'd end up and why the anesthesiologist gave me more medication without my consent. DD was born after 2 and a half hours of pushing.

My midwife put the baby on top of me and I didn't know what to do with this little peanut but I remember sobbing, choking out the words to DH that she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. She was perfectly healthy and loved snuggling from the first time we held each other.

Thank you to all who helped me along this journey and continue to do so. Even if I haven't been able to have my preferred birth, I appreciate all the help and continue to learn from my experiences.

How could I not be thankful to have this happy, healthy little girl?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Trust Your Body

Through my whole pregnancy I was constantly surprised and amazed at how well I handled everything and how natural everything felt. I was quite lucky and had very few "typical" pregnancy symptoms (whatever those are) and basically was just really tired - all the time.

Now you may argue with me here and tell me that I'm lucky (and I was to an extent), but in reality I was built and born ready to be able to have a child. Most women are - so why did I always feel so shocked and amazed when things went right?

I'm sure there are many answers to this question as it is quite multi-faceted. But, my experience as to why I was adamant that I would never have a child (which was basically until I found out I was pregnant!) is that I have a half sister who was born when I was 16 years old. I love this girl dearly and don't get to see enough of her, ever. Anyway, when I was 16 years old I was quite the curious and avid reader and therefore picked up and read the popular book, "What to Expect When You're Expecting".

Can I tell you something here? I'm going to be honest: DON'T READ THIS BOOK!!!

So many books and online websites will tell you all of the stuff that can go wrong. Generally, you are told the worst possible outcome first. That way these gruesome details stick in your head and make you wonder why any person in the world would even consider becoming pregnant. Well, that's what I grew up thinking.

It made it interesting to go through pregnancy, labour, birth, and raising a healthy Little Bean because I'm still learning how to trust my body. It hasn't been easy and is still challenging at times so I thought I would throw this preface out to write a few series of posts about why you should trust your body.