Saturday, June 13, 2009

Baby Born to Exhausted, but Happy Mama!

A while back, I asked a woman I'll call Elle if she would write out her birth story for my blog. I had been inspired by what little details I knew of her long and wonderful labor, and wanted to share another positive, hopeful prodromal birth story with my readers (i.e., prodromal birth is totally doable!).

I should mention that this woman and her husband had several things going for them, which contributed to her joyous completion of several days of labor with no pain meds and little intervention! Ladies, if she can do it (not a self-proclaimed "tough" person), you can, too! Elle and her hubby had taken thorough classes from an independent teacher (not a hospital--perhaps some day I will post on why this is important) that gave them many good tools for handling the labor she experienced. She had also chosen a midwife for her care, and I have to say, I was impressed that the medical staff encouraged her to go home several times, and that she was smart enough to do it!

Read on for a truly inspiring prodromal birth story! Oh, and of course, I LOVE how she starts it. Isn't that the truth about prodromal labor?!
I’m not sure when I would say that I “went into labor.” I started having contractions on and off as early as 4 months pregnant. Sometimes I would have them for an hour or two coming as quickly as a couple minutes apart, but then they would stop. About two weeks before my due date, I decided to have my midwife check to see if I was dilated and I was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced and the baby’s head was at 0 station in my pelvis.

"Three days before I had the baby, I started having contractions again around 7PM. I was excited and hoping the contractions would stay this time, so I decided to march around the room to see if they would get stronger. The contractions started to get stronger and closer together, sometimes lasting a minute long and being about 3-4 mins apart. I knew I wanted to try to labor as long as I could at home before I went to the hospital, so I kept watching for the Emotional Sign Posts that we learned in Bradley Class. I still felt like I could pretty much talk through the contractions, so I knew I still had time. That night I woke up on and off with contractions.

"At one point I couldn’t sleep, more out of excitement that my contractions were lasting all night, and I decided to march around the living room some more. Our cats came down and sat on the stairs and watched me like I was crazy. The next day we decided to call my midwife to let her know I was still having contractions every 3-4 min and they were lasting about a minute each. Even though I didn’t feel like it was time yet, they asked me to come in to just be checked and see where I was at. I was about 4 cm dilated now. The midwife told me to go home and get in the bath tub to help me relax and let my body work. I was hungry though and we decided to stop at a local pizza place across the street from her office.

"We started out at a booth inside, but I was so hot from all the contractions I had to go outside in the winter air and cool off. So we ended up being the only people out on the patio. My husband said the people inside were watching and sort of smiling but concerned at the same time as he had to keep getting up and rubbing my back through the contractions. I got about half my slice down and then I just knew I had to get home so I could really relax. My husband ran inside and grabbed a box for the pizza and we took off.

"We ended up going to my mom’s house, which was a little closer to the hospital. The bath felt so good that I ended up staying in it for about 4 hours while my husband and mom took turns rubbing my back through each contraction. My contractions were just as strong and close together as earlier, but the water seemed to lighten the pressure from my back labor a bit. It also helped me rest and conserve some energy for later. Around 5 p.m., my family thought I should check in to the hospital. I didn’t really feel like it was time yet, but I agreed to go since I couldn’t talk during contractions anymore and I figured it must be soon.

"We stopped at a health food store for some popsicles and honey sticks. I had about two more contractions as I hurried through the store to get what I wanted. Then we met my dad who was just getting off work at a burger place to get some food for everyone. I was the one who wanted to go get food, but I ended up regretting the choice and just wanted to leave. We made it to the hospital around 6 p.m. and the midwife on call checked me and I was still only about 4-5 cm dilated and my contractions seemed to slow down a little while I was there. Both sides of the family had come to the hospital and now I was feeling bad like I needed to do something for them. We tried to walk around and see if they would pick up again, but they were only about 6 mins apart now.

"The midwife knew I wanted to try going natural so she said the best thing for me would be to go home and try to get some sleep so I would have energy in the morning to have the baby. So we ended up back at my mom’s house to spend the night. I’m not sure I got any sleep that night as my contractions started to get really strong and close together.

"At 4 a.m., I got back in the tub and my husband would “wake up” every 4 minutes and rub my back or feet. I’m not sure he really was awake: he started to fall into the tub once as he was rubbing my back! I stayed in the tub most of the morning so I could try to rest between the contractions to make up for the missed sleep the night before.

"About 10 a.m., we went outside in front of my mom’s house and walked around a bit. My contractions were getting very strong so we decided to call our midwife again. They were booked at the office, but were able to squeeze me in with one of the OBGYNs to see where I was at before we drove all the way downtown. I was now a good 5, maybe 6 cm and the OBGYN said he thought I would probably have the baby that night or early the next morning. He told me to go get something to eat and go check in the hospital whenever I felt ready.

"We decided to go back to my mom’s house one more time. I have low blood sugar, so I knew I wanted to get as much protein and energy in before I went to the hospital, where they have you stay on a liquid diet during labor. I went to lie down and read a Psalm as I tried to stay relaxed while my husband, mom and sister all ran around the kitchen trying to find foods that would be good for me. I could hear the excitement in their voices and sort of resented the fact that they were excited. I’m pretty hospital-phobic and by now I was starting to feel like it was too much for my body, I just felt like crying. But I was encouraged and reminded that God was going to give me strength.

"By the time they brought me food (around 4 p.m.) I knew it was time to go. I was in the serious stage sign post and I really wasn’t in the mood to eat, although I did force myself to eat a little since I knew I would have a blood sugar crash from not eating dinner. My mom drove us so that my husband could stay in the back and help me through contractions.

"We arrived at the hospital around 5 p.m. We checked into Triage where they got my IV ready for the antibiotic to kill the GBS [Group B Strep] that I had (which my husband and I now sort of regret accepting). The first IV the young nurse accidentally “Blew up my vein” she told me—a needle/blood-phobic person. My husband sort of whispered to her and told her not to talk out loud about it and tried to get her to fix it without letting me hear details so that I wouldn’t panic. Another girl came in to take a blood sample and then the young nurse came back and tried the IV again. My mom thought it looked funny and it felt weird to me, but the nurse assured us that it was right.

"She took us to our birthing room where I saw the most beautiful tub I’ve ever seen! I wanted to get in there right away, but the nurses wanted to get a dose of antibiotic in first. My mom and husband saw the little bed with the baby hat and blanket in it and were almost in tears with excitement that our baby would soon be here! I was excited too, but at that moment I just couldn’t look at it. I couldn’t think about anything else besides relaxing through the contractions.
"Well, it ended up that the IV wasn’t even in a vein and after almost getting a full bag of antibiotic fluids, we realized it was just going into my arm. My arm swelled to double its size and I realized I was trying to take deep relaxing breaths not for the contractions but because my arm was killing me. They brought in a good nurse who took out the bad IV. My veins were really constricted now so it took her two tries before she got a good one in. I was so thankful once the IV was in and it didn’t hurt anymore! I think the whole IV fiasco slowed me down a little, but they let me get into the wonderful tub and I stayed in there for quite awhile. I think I would have stayed there forever if they would have let me, but they encouraged me to try to get out for a little bit and move around to see if things would go faster.

"I loved the nurse and midwife I had that night! They just sat there with us in silence and let us relax. The midwife would rub my back or head to help me relax. Every once in a while she would give me suggestions for different laboring positions. I don’t really remember time periods anymore, but I know about 10 p.m., the midwife came in and checked me and I was about 7 cm dilated. She could tell I was getting really tired. She asked us if we would want her to break my bag of waters. At first I didn’t like that idea at all and wanted to experience it breaking on its own, but my husband and I talked and prayed and decided it would be good. So at around 10:30 p.m., they broke my water.

"Right away, I went into transition. I felt like I was on some kind of weird ride. It felt good to have the warm water empty out with each contraction, but it was also strange to feel so out of control of my body. I remember holding on to the bar of the bed and almost feeling like I was on some kind of swaying ship. I threw up once, but then felt fine in my stomach.

"Probably about an hour later I had an urge to push. I told the midwife and she checked me and said I was about 7-8 cm. She told me to make some grunting noises as if I was pushing to keep me from really pushing. It felt like only seconds later that I was telling them that my body was pushing and I didn’t know how to stop it.

"The midwife, who was about to leave, ran back to me and checked and said I was almost at 10cm. She told me I could start pushing with the contractions gently. Pushing felt so wonderful! My husband later told me he was sympathy pushing with me. :o) The midwife used her hand to help the cervix gently come over the baby’s head so that it didn’t tear. It felt a lot better once her head was past that point.

"The midwife asked me if I thought I could get up and sit on the toilet for awhile to push. I stayed there for about 3-4 contractions. We tried some squatting too, but after a little bit I was too tired and they had me sit up in the bed. They gave me some oxygen between pushes for extra energy. They also brought in the mirror for me so I could see my baby as she was crowning.

"I reached down and felt her head and saw the first little glimpses of her! They asked my husband if he would like to catch our baby. He looked a little unsure, but decided to do it. They told him to go wash up and get gloves on and right as he left the bed to do that I felt another pushing contraction and was a little worried he was going to miss it! But I still had a few to go.

"During the pushes I couldn’t seem to talk or look at anything. I felt this amazing rush of all my energy go into each push. At one point I tried to look as I pushed, but everything went black. I wasn’t scared though. It just felt so powerful and amazing! Birth really is such a miracle! After about an hour of pushing and 54 total hours of labor, our little girl was born at 1:05 AM January 16th, 2009. They placed her on my stomach and I looked down at her and she opened her eyes and looked up at me. It was love at first sight!"


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