Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Haley's Birth Story, Part 2

Of one thing I was certain: I wouldn’t miss the birth of my own baby! Even though I had a history of not recognizing labor until well into it, I knew it was unlikely that I would remain unaware of labor ENTIRELY, and that, if the contractions I was having finally BECAME labor, at some point I’d be aware of that fact. I wasn’t concerned that I may not recognize “the real deal,” and it turns out that this time, I really didn’t have to be. Because one day, the contractions REALLY. CAUGHT. MY ATTENTION.

Thursday, May 22, 2008 (one day before “due” date): around 4:30 a.m. An extremely strong contraction upon waking made me eager to have it over with so I could run to the restroom and then get back to sleep. However, I kept having contractions that same strength once I got back into bed. After having 3 in 15-20 min. (that required my total concentration and relaxation to keep breathing and not be swallowed by their severe intensity, reaching out to Casey in silence as I struggled through the last one, not able to speak—I mean SERIOUS contractions!) I woke Casey to let him know what was going on. I told him the pain might be aggravated by nausea, and that I was going to get a snack and time contractions. He made sure that I would come back to bed soon, then went back to sleep.

So around 5 a.m., I went downstairs to get some yogurt and applesauce and had a cup of hot Chamomile tea (the "soothing," instead of the "toning,"--and possibly intensifying? I wasn't wanting to find out!--choice of teas). While snacking, I also posted a quick note to my blog that I wondered if I was in labor today. I also took some herbs for my GBS. (Supposed to take them every 4 hours starting at the onset of labor.)
In the time I was downstairs, contractions were 5-20 minutes apart lasting 1 – 2 minutes. Averaging out, they were 11 minutes apart, 90 seconds duration. (Not very neat: 8, 11, 13, 11, 20, 5, 8 min apart; 1:30, 1:30, 2:00, 1:00, 1:50, 1:20, 1:20 minutes long.) While walking around the kitchen, stopping for contractions, swaying and concentrating, I thought, “If this is how the textbook labor is supposed to start, I can see why women wouldn’t have trouble recognizing it.” They were SO STRONG from the get-go. Just about as intense as they got toward the end with my first 2 labors. So I had this thought about having NO doubt this was it, but then again, I felt absolutely fine between contractions and they were far enough apart (most of the day, in fact) to cause me to doubt their intensity until the next one started. I would doubt myself after only seconds had passed since a contraction, thinking my memory must be making them seem stronger than they really were.

I went back upstairs around 6:20 a.m. and tried to sleep, but the nausea hadn’t gone away (it didn’t the whole day) and I had 3 more contractions strong and evenly-spaced-enough in 40 min. to not get to sleep between them.

Finally, at 7:00, not being very successful at relaxing in my “sleep imitation,” I decided to pull out the big guns for labor and drew a bath in our beautifully deep garden tub. I added some lovely-smelling bubbles and began to review Dr. Bradley’s book, Husband-Coached Childbirth (not a must-read in my opinion, but I had just gotten it back the week before from my sis and since it had been awhile since I’d leafed through, I thought it might be interesting). I opened the blinds slightly to enjoy the natural light and discovered that it was drizzling outside. Ahh. . . what a relaxing day to labor! How peaceful to sink into a warm bath while watching the overcast sky and hear the rain fall gently against the window.

Ruby and Claire soon made their way into the bathroom (the morning tradition is to awake and come see Mommy) and, seeing me in the bubbly tub, asked to join me. I brought them in, but the water was so deep that they had to sit on my legs to keep their heads above water. They spent a good 15 minutes or so in the tub with me playing with the bubbles as we talked about the baby coming today, and then Sandy (MIL—she flew in from Portland 2 days before to help with the new baby) offered to take them and dress/feed them. Contractions were still very strong in the tub, but they spaced out a bit and it felt good to be in the warm water. I decided that I would not want to actually birth in the tub. It was hard to feel “grounded” in such a big place. I had to work hard to keep from slipping in completely. I don’t know how I would have pushed in there. It’s really important to me to be able to relax all my muscles, save the pushing ones, and I would have had to hold myself onto the side of the tub with my arms while trying to push. Too much work, I thought.

Anyway, a side (or bottom, as the case may be) issue comes up here and I must digress. The Thursday before, as my sister and her family were here, we were enjoying an evening playing Wii games. We were bowling and I stood up, took my turn, and backed up to the couch to sit. I didn’t look, and should have taken another step before plopping my heavy prego self on the couch, because I missed the cushion and landed extremely hard on the wood frame of the couch, breaking my tailbone. (Even 5 weeks after the fact, my tailbone was still sore and I had to sit carefully and after having sat any length of time I was very sore—especially driving, and finally, 9 weeks after the injury, I was able to sit in any position I so desired without discomfort.) As would be expected, this tailbone thing affected labor and birth. I don’t think I really have any idea how much so, since there is no way to go back and experience Haley’s birth without a tailbone injury.

So, exactly a week after the injury, in the tub, I find there are only a few positions that don’t hurt—even in the water. I need to kind-of sit on my hands to protect my tailbone or float along in a “push-up” position, belly down, my arms straight down to support me, or sit very much forward—not on my bottom at all—in order to not be in pain. The usual tub position is out of the question. I think this had to do with me nixing the tub-for-birth idea.

I stayed in the bath for at least an hour, timing contractions, reading, relaxing. When I got out, I put on my pretty pink labor nighty, which I had decided to get because I knew it would affect my outlook on the beauty of the day I brought my child into the world, as well as help me to relax when I looked down and saw something girly that acknowledged my extremely feminine state and not my husband’s dark shapeless t-shirt. And I knew it would make a better memory in my mind.

A pancake breakfast and some family time downstairs followed.

For most of the day, it really was boring in between contractions. Too much time between them to really hold onto how difficult they were, but too little time to rest or get something done. At 8:48 a.m., I called Barb to let her know I might be calling her to come today. I made sure to call immediately after a contraction, while I still felt absolutely certain these HAD to be labor contractions and before I started wondering again. If I waited too long between, it seemed silly to call at all. (What would I say? "Barb, I just wanted to give you a head's up that we might call you in the next few days?") "Here we go again," I thought.

For Part 3, click here