Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Birth Story

he looks slightly mischievous here- should we be worried?

Each of my labor and delivery experiences have been quite different. The short versions of each:

A week and a half late. I tried walking, massaging pressure points, etc, but only got contractions going for a short time, so we ended up going to the hospital and being induced, which is not something I ever want to do again. I got an epidural, but it didn't work properly (I felt a lot of the experience) and I still have problems with pain at the epidural site. Sunshine's big head got stuck and she had to be suctioned out. Her stuck head caused damage that didn't heal completely for about 2 years. I also pulled a groin muscle while pushing and it took months to heal. I got an episiotomy I didn't want. Sunshine weighed 7#6oz. Both moms present. This was not a great experience at all and I had (maybe still have?) a lot of negative feelings about it.

River  (read the long version here)
6 days late. Went into labor on my own the morning after spending some time on the treadmill (coincidence?). I got an epidural that worked properly- no other problems with it. Pushed river out without any problems. Tore a small amount. River weighed 7#8oz. MIL had to leave before he was born, but my mom was here. This was a much better experience and was pretty much how I'd like a labor and delivery to go.

4 days late. Went into labor naturally without any efforts on my part. No time for an epidural. Tore more than with River because of how fast everything went. Ocean weighed 7#4oz. My mom couldn't come, but MIL got here the day before Ocean was due. This was mostly a good experience, I guess, but I'm still not completely sure how I feel about it since I wasn't prepared for it.


My kiddos like a little extra time to cook. I wasn't worried about River or Ocean being late because Sunshine was late and there wasn't any major problems (other than that big head of hers that would have caused problems regardless of when she was born). They're not too big and they don't have any health problems associated with being late. River and Ocean's pregnancies were so much easier than Sunshine's that I haven't minded the extra time hanging out with them before they're born.

They also don't drop before delivery, but stay high until the last minute possible. I don't dilate until the last minute. No walking around at a 4 or 5 for weeks ahead of time for me. Once I do dilate, it progresses fairly quickly, though it has sped up with each subsequent delivery.


Labor and Delivery-Related TMI Ahead
Proceed at Your Own Risk

The long version of Ocean's labor and delivery:

Saturday I finished the homeschool cupboard and worked a bit more on a multi-part project I haven't yet finished.

Sunday in church I couldn't bend over to pick something up off the floor while sitting on the pew- it hurt in a way that it hadn't before. I wasn't in labor or anything, but things felt different. After church I fell asleep on the couch for awhile- I was too tired to stay awake. After dinner I remembered River had a speech therapy appointment first thing Monday morning at our house, so I tidied up the living room- mostly this meant putting away the cans of paint and stain that I had left spread out on the school table.

Sunday night I was up a bit late because of the nap I took (I always have a hard time sleeping after taking a nap), but I eventually fell asleep around midnight, just to wake up around 1:30 because the contractions I'd been feeling off and on before going to sleep were more intense and regular. I wasn't sure if they were the real thing, but I also had some leakage that I wasn't sure if it was amniotic fluid. I was strep B positive this pregnancy and I was told I needed to get antibiotics into my system before giving birth, preferably before my water broke. So we called the answering service at 2, then had to wait for the doc to call us. Mr M woke his mom and told her we were leaving and at 2:25 we got in the car and started driving since it's about 25-30 min to the hospital at that time of the morning. The doc called just after we left and she confirmed that we should head in. This is where we were really happy Mr M's mom was here and we didn't have to wake up friends at 2 am to come watch the kiddos. We may not have made it to the hospital at all if we'd had to wait for someone to get to our house.

It took a few minutes to get settled once we arrived at the hospital, but when they checked me I was only a 2. We discussed using the tub and calling the doc and getting an epidural, but within half an hour I was at an 8 and the contractions were coming fast and furious. Not only was I going to miss out on the tub again (I missed it with River too), but I was probably going to miss out on the epidural. In between contractions the nurses were taking down info, putting the IV in, and trying to draw blood. By the time the nurse came for the blood draw the contractions were very close together and intense and she had a hard time getting the blood draw successfully- the bruise in my elbow is testament to that.

By that point reality had set in and we all knew I wasn't getting an epidural. They'd given me a dose of Fentanyl, but it did absolutely nothing other than make me a bit dizzy. They'd called the anesthesiologist, but there just wasn't time to get an epidural administered and working. What was more, the ob/gyn hadn't arrived either. So we ended up with 5 or 6 nurses in the room, all there to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible.

Mr M had my right hand and the nurse who had my left hand tried to talk me through the contractions, coaching my breathing (something I'd never really had to worry about in previous births with epidurals), at least two were between my legs and another was hanging out to help with the baby when he was born.

We hadn't quite gotten to active pushing (but I was definitely feeling the urge to push) when the doc arrived. Not long after that and we were pushing. It took a lot more pushing and a lot more effort than I expected just to get him down to where he was actually coming out- he was up too high (though I think all of mine have been like that- they don't really drop). Once he was finally in position it only took a couple more pushes for Ocean to fully emerge. They had an oxygen mask on me in between pushes. I was having too hard a time controlling my breathing and the oxygen mask helped make sure I didn't get too light headed and pass out. I received oxygen with River also.

Once Ocean was out, they put him on my chest, Mr M cut the cord, and the doc got started stitching me up. Mr M then helped me take my shirt off so Ocean could be skin to skin with me. I'd put the gown on when I got there, but since we thought we had time I hadn't gotten around to taking my shirt off under it. At that point I glanced at the clock on the wall and saw that we'd been at the hospital less than two hours. Yikes! Way faster than we thought things would go.

a hard-won snuggle

Since it was barely 5 am, we had plenty of time to email and text Mr M's work, River's speech therapist, and our families, sharing the news and changing appointments. I realized it was a good thing I'd put away the cans of paint and stain, since they would have been too appealing to River. Mr M's mom would have spent all her time keeping him away from them.

During that time Ocean hung out on my chest- our hospital lets the baby hang out with mommy for an hour before taking the baby to be weighed and measured and such. This is much nicer than the 5 or 10 minutes we had with Sunshine before they took her away to get cleaned up and weighed.

Sunshine and River meeting Ocean for the first time later that afternoon

Some dis-jointed thoughts about the experience:

I was not prepared mentally for giving birth without an epidural and it definitely affected the experience.

I have too good of an imagination and I kept picturing what was going on down in my nether regions while pushing, which was counter-productive. I've had some painful experiences with exams and procedures down there (a hysterosalpingogram was particularly traumatic) and I really am not comfortable with people messing around down there, especially if I can feel it, which is why I appreciate the epidurals so much.  I was also worried about what damage I could be doing to myself (hemorrhoids, prolapse, etc. I told you I have an over-active imagination), and at the same time I could feel Ocean's head progressing downward, which hurt more than I thought it would. Pain on the inside combined with who-knows-what going on outside didn't do a lot towards keeping me calm and focused.

Mr M was a trooper and his hands are a bit sore from me squeezing them during the contractions, though I tried to massage them more than just squeeze, which helped me focus a bit better. When one hand got too sore he'd switch hands for awhile. Grabbing and massaging with my right hand was the only thing I could really do to work through each contraction. My left hand wasn't very useful because of the location of the IV, which ended up getting knocked out twice while I was pushing. The nurse waiting for the baby was proud of herself for getting the IV back in in between (maybe during?) contractions. After Ocean was born I looked down at my arm and saw blood dripping down it because the IV had gotten knocked out again. At that point they just cleaned up my arm and put a bandage on my hand.

Our clinic has multiple ob/gyns, two of which are female. When River was born, one of the male docs was on-call and handled the delivery. This time around one of the female docs was on-call, so with the 4 or 5 nurses everyone in the room except for Mr M was female. It made for a nice dynamic that I appreciated that much more since I was doing it without the benefit of drugs, which made me feel much more vulnerable somehow. Probably because there was no backing out of the experience, and I would be feeling all the pain, whether I wanted to or not.

After the delivery they gave me some oxycodone and ibuprofen which took the edge off the pain in my nether regions. It didn't feel great down there and I ended up taking pain killers all day. Not what I'd liked to have done, but it was necessary. Interestingly enough, the following day most of the pain was gone and I didn't take any pain killers. The sore muscles everywhere made their presence known in a big way (seriously, I have sore muscles in places I didn't know could get sore) but I've resisted taking painkillers for them. My stitches have started bothering me a bit as they have with past deliveries, but that's to be expected. I also have some painful hemorrhoids that did indeed make their appearance during labor (I told you there was TMI in here).

our little cutie

Despite the amount of pain I went through during delivery and how bad everything felt in the first 24 hours afterward, I feel like I've been healing much faster than in the past with the epidurals. This makes sense, since our bodies are made to push out babies and epidurals are a recent addition to the equation, but to actually experience the difference has been quite enlightening. Not that I'm saying everything is hunky dory or anything. A week postpartum and I'm still sore and can't sit for long periods of time without pretty significant amounts of pain and discomfort. Regardless of how a baby is born, it takes a while for the body to heal from the process.

When I was pregnant with Sunshine I briefly considered having an "all-natural" birthing experience, but I decided I didn't want to do it without an epidural- I didn't want to feel everything. Since then I've never even considered giving birth without an epidural. Which made Ocean's birth that much more difficult. I hadn't prepared myself mentally to experience the intense physical sensations of childbirth. And I wasn't prepared physically either- I hadn't practiced breathing techniques or any other methods of dealing with contractions. Since I was planning on getting an epidural I didn't think I needed to review them. So let that be a warning: just because you plan on having an epidural, it doesn't mean you'll actually get it, so you should be prepared for other contingencies.

I have no idea if this is our last pregnancy or not. That's something we need to pray about, but we're a little too close to this delivery to start thinking about such things. If we do have another kiddo, I will be requesting an epidural as soon as I get to the hospital (one of the nurses said I should do so in an effort to make sure I actually get it), but I will also review breathing techniques and other ways of getting through labor and delivery without drugs. I just don't know that I need another delivery sans epidural. Having such a short labor and delivery did make the experience easier, but it was still difficult and not something I want to repeat.

No comments:

Post a Comment