Monday, December 8, 2008

Haley's Birth Story, Part 3

We hung out downstairs as a family. Casey got some video that included a 2 minute, 45 second double-peaking contraction that I recall being very strong and difficult. Casey and I had talked about trying to get more video during this labor, partially because it would take some of the work out of trying to remember everything that happened, and also because it is really interesting for me to see my labors/births from an outsider’s perspective. I was struck by this in watching the precious little video we had of Claire’s labor day, and how I appeared—even to myself (who knew better)—like I wasn’t experiencing much discomfort, knowing that in reality for one of those contractions, I was mentally hanging on for dear life in sheer panic at that moment. This video segment was similar (though the contraction was much less of a doozie than that one recorded in Claire’s labor) in that I remember feeling like tossing Claire off my lap, snapping at Ruby to "just get the cookie cutters, for pity's sake!" and ripping off my robe for parts of the contraction(s). I was feeling very peeved and annoyed at the fact that Claire was not only on my lap, pinning me to the floor (if she had not been, I would have immediately taken to all fours), but once I leaned back—er—to the side (tailbone)—to get away from her a little and give my belly room to harden and expand, she began rocking back and forth, trying to bounce off of my belly. Yet what I see transpire in that few minutes of video is me calmly talking with Ruby, leaning back and holding my hand in front of me so Claire can bounce against my hand instead of my belly, almost seeming like I’m playing a game with her. The reality was that here and there during the contraction, I was peeved and out-of-control (in my own mind). I wonder if other women have noticed feeling very different than how others observe them or what they see in their videos or pictures.

I have a theory as to why this happens (at least for me). It is imperative that my voluntary muscles remain relaxed during strong contractions, or they become much too painful to bear. If I begin to lose it emotionally and tense up, it is everything I can do to get through even one more second, and it is virtually impossible to regain a relaxed state until the contraction subsides. Therefore, though I may be irritated or upset, I refuse to give in to this derailment to relaxation. I think that is also one of the reasons why I don’t snap at my husband while in the heat of pain as is so commonly the labor “thing to do” (though I must admit a lot of it has to do with his not irritating me in the first place!). I truly don’t believe you can both be relaxed and scream in anger. Hmmm. Now if only I could get the same sense of urgency to stay on an even keel for every other day of my life. . .

Okay, back to the birth story! Since the “nap” that morning, contractions were anywhere from 12-32 minutes apart. When they came, they were so intense, but again I wasn’t sure about their intensity after a moment’s break. Around 10, after the last 2 contractions were a half-hour apart, I decided to stop timing altogether. I apologized to Casey for having him stay home, since it was apparent that labor wasn’t going anywhere soon, and may peter out altogether. We talked about the possibility of him going in to work after all, but he said they weren’t busy enough to really need him, and it was a long weekend already (being Memorial Day weekend and his Friday off)—he was happy to start it a day early even if I didn’t end up having the baby.

Sandy and Ruby left on their date to go to Wal-Mart somewhere around 11 while Casey, Claire and I napped in our bed. When contractions hit, I awoke, but could sleep between them. Barb called at 11:42 from her office to check on the contractions. I don’t really remember having the nap interrupted by her calls, so I’m not sure what the exact timing was, but caller ID says she called again at 12:19. I know by then I had given up on napping, because I answered that call in the office.

She was calling to say that she was going to her grandson's, but to call her cell if things got going. I somehow misunderstood what she said, because I had it in my mind that her son/grandson lived in the East Mountains. It was probably one word she said, like “I’m going to head up there” or something. So I thought she’d be a little ways away if we did end up needing her. (It turned out they live in the south part of ABQ, so she was actually closer than she would have been if she was at her office.) Anyway, this part is a little confusing to me now (as it was then), because I remember having a pretty restful nap, and fairly long (at least an hour), so I don’t have any idea what the timing was here.

As all labors are, this one was different than my other two in several ways. One of those differences is that for most of the day, contractions were overpowering if I was lying down and trying to relax (on my side: it had been a couple months since it felt “good” to lie on my back). I just could not handle their intensity. I really felt like I had to move during them to deal with the pain. A little strange from what I’m used to. Some of that may have had to do with my tailbone injury. Since the injury, even lying on my side was painful. Not as much as lying on my back, but it still put pressure on it. (The least painful position those first few weeks was standing.)

At some point (in the nap I believe), a monstrous contraction 3 or more minutes long made me want to get up and do something so my mind would be distracted from how strong the contractions were. I had found that morning that I coped with them better if I stood and swayed my hips from side to side or in circles. Another difference was that “sounding” was very helpful all day for the pain—not just at the end of labor (in my other labors I was pretty quiet during most of the hard contractions)—so there I was, walking around in between contractions, then stopping to lean on the counter, couch, whatever was near, and sway my hips, moaning or “huuuu. . .” -ing as I exhaled (like an audible sigh when you’re frustrated, only I wasn’t—it just felt better to make that patronizing sound) until it came to a peak, then resuming walking around after a breath of recovery. After waking from this nap, contractions were 10 minutes apart and as strong as they had been.

Claire awoke, and I went upstairs to get her before she woke Casey. One of us should get a good nap, I thought. Who knew when things would really get going and how long we’d be doing this? After a little while, Sandy and Ruby returned, and Sandy went to work preparing quesadillas for lunch. It was probably around 1 p.m. and I was getting pretty hungry. I really wasn’t at full mental capacity here (don’t know if I can remember when I last was!) and I remember talking to Sandy and wondering how she was going to make the quesadillas (why did it matter?), but at some point, she must have just done what seemed best to her, because I was soon eating one. (I tended to drift off mentally for contractions, and conversations would just trail off.)

Casey got up from his nap and came downstairs after we had finished, and ate his lunch while standing in the kitchen. I had resumed timing contractions at 1:05. After having one contraction, several more came but weren’t strong, so I didn’t count them and a ½ hour passed before another decent one came, so it really seemed like things were slowing down, even though in general they were still 10 min apart and around 1 min. 20 seconds duration. In hindsight, that half-hour break (probably around when we ate lunch, how handy :) was the calm before the storm.

I was sitting on the love seat, continuing to time contractions, Claire by my side. Sandy had stepped out of the room and Casey was doing some dishes. At 2:03, a contraction began that nearly knocked me out. I could tell from the get-go it was going to take everything I had. I took off my glasses and put them on my lap, threw my head back and just tried to BREATHE. Apparently, Claire grabbed my glasses and was putting them on (rather roughly—almost everything she does can be classified that way). Casey (from his perspective I was resting) saw her and thought she had Sandy’s glasses and started yelling (not quite): “Mom! Sarah! Mom! She’s got your glasses! Mom! She’s going to break them! Sarah! Take them away!” But I really couldn’t have cared less at that moment. It took everything in me—and more—to just stay conscious and breathing. After the peak, but while the contraction continued, I explained that I wasn’t ignoring him, I was just busy with a contraction. When Casey realized that I had heard him, but was that pre-occupied with a contraction, he said, “This reminds me of the end of Claire’s labor. You need to call Barb.” I told him I wanted him to call her. And a light bulb went on as we looked at each other. We knew things were getting intense.

For Part 4, click here

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