Sunday, March 15, 2009

Laurie, Robin, and Lydia's Birth Story

On Wednesday, I resigned myself to the idea that there was nothing I could do to make this baby come. I was feeling really discouraged because my parents had been here since Saturday, and I was worried that they might not get to meet the baby before they had to return to Minnesota. I made peace with this, and we enjoyed the evening with a yummy dinner and pleasant conversation. Robin and I went to bed around 10:45, and I treated myself to a bit of TV before falling asleep. Little did I know…

At 1:00 AM, I woke up to a strange feeling. I wasn’t sure if I had to go to the bathroom, or if something else was going on. I got up and on my way to the restroom, realized that this might be my water breaking. I didn’t experience the dramatic gush that we hear about so often; I wasn’t even sure if I was right about what had happened. I woke Robin up, and we called Kristen, our doula, and she suggested going back to bed and if contractions hadn’t started by the morning, going into my doctor’s office for a test to confirm that my water had indeed broken. I tried to go back to sleep, but something in my body would not let me. We had heard so many stories about marathon labors lasting upwards of twenty hours, so I was really worried about not sleeping.

At 1:45, I experienced my first contraction. I had been experiencing cramping and Braxton-Hicks contractions for a few weeks, and I knew immediately that this was different. I couldn’t stay lying down and had to sit up and very consciously keep breathing deeply and steadily. I was pretty sure that this was the beginning of my labor, and I tried to do what we had talked about in birthing class—sleep between contractions. I just couldn’t. My 2nd contraction came about 15 minutes later, and the next was 10 minutes later. A few contractions later, we were at 7 minutes apart, and they were never any shorter than 60 seconds. For most of them, I had to sit up, and very quickly began managing them on my hands and knees, a position we had learned in birthing class. By about 4:00, they were 5-6 minutes apart, and I was sometimes using our exercise ball to get into a position that felt a little better. I really relied on my yoga breathing and as I experienced each contraction I would think about my cervix opening to get the baby out, hoping that this would help my body work with the contractions rather than fight them. I kept remembering what our doula and our birth class instructor had said about staying relaxed rather than tensing up so that my body’s natural hormones would help make my labor more effective.

Even doing this, I was starting to panic a bit. I kept thinking about the long labors I had heard about, and as my contractions became more intense and painful, I kept thinking, “If I still have 16 more hours of this and it is going to get more painful, there is no way I am going to be able to go through it without drugs.” I knew that as this panic set in, it was time to call our doula to come over. Kristen said she would be over shortly and suggested that I get in the shower to manage the pain of the contractions. I got in the shower, and Robin went into my parents’ room to tell them that I was in labor, Kristen was coming, and we would probably be headed to the hospital soon. I continued going through the contractions on my hands and knees, sometimes with the exercise ball, but now with hot water coming down on my back. This really seemed to help until Kristen got to our house, but I still had a few moments of almost-panic. Also, Robin informed me that my contractions were now less than 4 minutes apart (our hope had been to leave for the hospital when we were between 3 and 4 minutes apart, since the hospital is so close to our house). I made the decision that it was to go to the hospital, so I got out of the shower and began to get dressed, which was a slow-going process since my contractions were coming on faster and faster and getting really strong.

When Kristen arrived, she asked that we go through a few more contractions at the house so she could gage where I was at. Instantly, having Kristen with me made me feel like I could get on top of the contraction before it became too painful. She helped me use my voice—making low sounds from the belly—to cope with pain and guided me in keeping my body--especially my belly--relaxed. She also helped me stay focused on why my body was doing this and why I had to do it—to meet my baby as soon as possible. Even with this, when I went through the third contraction with her, something in me started to panic. It just became so intense and so painful, I felt like I couldn’t keep going. Again, Kristen helped calm me down and suggested that we begin making our way downstairs to go to the hospital. I had to stop twice on the stairs and once in our front walk—in the cold rain, no less--for a contraction. I would squat down, and Kristen would get in front of me so that I could lean on her. She would help me breathe, relax, and do what I needed to do. I was really dreading the drive to Seton, even though it is a 10 minute drive at the most, 1.) because I had quickly come to depend on having Kristen there, and 2.) I didn’t know how I would cope with contractions while sitting in a car seat.

Robin drove the two of us and Kristen followed, and we arrived at Seton around 6:30 or 6:45. Robin was really wonderful in the car; he talked me through each contraction and helped me continue the vocalizations that Kristen had showed me at our house. I had three contractions on the way to the hospital, which made me realize that I was really close to having this baby. We pulled up to the hospital, at which point a short comedy of errors began. 1.) They had not received our pre-registration form, which is odd considering we hand-delivered it to them after one of our doctor’s appointments. 2.) We had left in such a hurry that we left my wallet, complete with ID and insurance information on the kitchen counter. 3.) The ER nurse that was to bring me up to Labor and Delivery was a very mean man. (I have to admit that a lot of this part comes to me through Robin and Kristen’s accounts, as I was in my labor daze and not very aware of what else was going on.) The nurse quite clearly did not know how to deal with women in labor, and he obviously just wanted to get me out of his hands. He refused to stop the wheelchair for my contractions until Kristen and Robin actually got in front of me. At one point, he actually said, “I don’t have time for this,” and took a phone call. It was ridiculous.

Once we arrived at Labor and Delivery, probably around 6:50 or so, our experience at Seton was wonderful. They brought me into a delivery room and I began to get a hospital gown on—so much for the cute labor gown I had brought from home. That was the last thing I cared about. I couldn’t even stay on my feet for contractions, so in the midst of changing, I kept having to drop to my knees. I finally got in the bed, and a nurse named Elizabeth helped me get situated and gave me my first cervical check. She had a strange look on her face as she was doing it and then told us, “I’ve been doing this for seven years, so I am pretty sure, but I am calling a doctor. Looks like you are 10 centimeters and ready to push.” I was in such a fog that it didn’t really hit me. The whole thing just felt very surreal.

They called the 1st OB into the room to confirm that I was dilated 10 centimeters, and she was in the room for such a short period that I didn’t even catch her name. She told us that she was delivering a baby down the hall, so a 2nd OB would be coming in. She also mentioned that she was getting off at 8, so she would probably be gone before I actually delivered. She did a second cervical exam and confirmed that I could begin pushing if I wanted to. She also said that the baby’s head was facing to the side, and I might want to get on my hands and knees to help her turn. I got back on my knees, and as the next contraction came on, Kristen told me that I could push if it felt good. At some point in there, the second OB, Dr. Nash arrived and began setting up. I was later told that I was mostly likely a “Code Stork,” or an emergency delivery, because the doctor arrived with the delivery tray and immediately began setting up. I was aware that all of this was going on, but really just focused on my contractions and now pushing. I have to say that all of the Seton employees in the room—both doctors, Elizabeth the nurse, and two other nurses in the corner, felt very supportive. I really felt like I was in a good place and would be cared for.

Pushing was a godsend. I finally felt like I could do something with my contractions instead of just manage them. Even though I had heard this before, it really surprised me how much easier my contractions were to manage when I could push. I pushed on my hands and knees for a few contractions, and then got back into a seated position in the bed to push. In what seemed like no time at all, they had the bed set up to deliver and I was holding my knees to my chest. I needed a lot of reminders to keep doing what I was supposed to. I kept forgetting to pull my knees to my chest, and as the pressure of the Lydia’s head became more intense, I wasn’t curling around her like I was supposed to, and I kept putting my head back and arching my back instead of keeping my head to my chest. I had Kristen on one side and Elizabeth the nurse on the other, and they both were just so encouraging. I could feel which pushes were productive, and as I was pushing, Kristen told me that they could see Lydia’s head and that she had hair. As Lydia began to crown, I really thought I was going to split in half. I was actually screaming, as the pain was so intense. There are very few direct quotes that I remember from delivering, but I remember vividly Kristen telling me to “push through the ring of fire.” Something about this helped me know what I had to do; it was the perfect thing for me to hear. On the next push, I could feel Lydia’s head come out; Robin later told me that even before her shoulders were out, her eyes and mouth were open and she was looking around. She was so alert! The rest of her came out, and I saw them pull this baby up and felt them put her on my chest. Her eyes were wide open, and she was wiggling all over the place. They put her head right up under my chin, so I couldn’t really see her, but I could feel her. The whole thing was just so surreal. After doing the necessary things to make sure she was healthy, they let me hold her while they took care of me, and I was able to try to breastfeed her about 45 minutes after she was born.

All in all, our little speedracer made her grand entry into the world exactly 6 hrs. and 55 minutes after my water broke, 6 hrs. and 12 minutes after my first contraction, and after 45 minutes of pushing. She weighed 9 lbs., 3 oz and measured at 21 ½ inches. Lydia came into the world completely drug-free, something I am very proud of. I know that I did the best thing for my baby and for me, and I have a newfound respect for myself knowing that I can do something like deliver a child naturally. Now the new challenge is adjusting to life with our baby girl!

1 comment:

  1. Laurie, you are amazing. Thanks for sharing this story.