What do you know... I actually finished
a project for once!!
Ethan Edward entered this world on 9/29 at 1342 hrs. He weighed 9 lbs 7 oz and is 21" long, and I delivered him completely drug-free!
I wanted to type out the story of his birth while everything is still relatively fresh in my mind. If you have a problem with graphic descriptions, then you might not want to keep reading... : )
I started having noticible contractions on Monday night at around 9:30 pm and told Shayne he should probably stay home from work. They weren't bad, but they were regular (about 7-10 minutes apart), and something just told me that this was it. I called my doula to give her a heads-up, then tried to get some rest.
Yeah, that didn't happen... I was feeling the contractions mostly in my back, and laying down through them was uncomfortable enough that I didn't want to do it. I layed down for a while, and it was like I could just feel this gaping hole opening up inside me. I wasn't trying to visualize anything, it just felt
like that's what was happening. I did the positioning exercises suggested to me to prevent or turn a posterior baby, but was still having lots of back pain. In fact, there were very few contractions that hurt all the way around. Or maybe it just felt that way because of the back labor.
By 4:30 am Tuesday morning, my contractions were about 3 minutes apart. This is when my midwife told me I should go to the hospital, but I just wasn't sure. I'd heard that you just know when it's time to go, but I guess I'm not one of those people. I called my mom, who suggested I go, then my doula. My doula didn't seem positive that I was ready. I talked to her through 3 contractions, though, and by the third, we had decided I should go and get checked. If I wasn't dilated to at least 5 cm, I figured I'd just come back home. My mom agreed to meet us there.
Sitting in the car through contractions sucked. A lot. At home I had to stand and sway my hips through each one to find a position where my back didn't quite hurt as badly. I obviously couldn't do that in the car, and when we it bumps while I was having a contraction it was pretty painful. Shayne (carefully) ran every red light we came to, which I thought was funny. When we got close to the hospital there was a stretch of brick-paved road we had to go down. This stretch had hurt even when I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions, and I had warned him in advance that I'd kill him if he drove down that road if I was having a contraction. Of course I was having one then. We waiting at a green light for what felt like forever and waited for my uterus to behave itself, then finally made it to the childbirth unit.
We entered the childbirth triage, where I was told to pee in a cup (maybe I'm not really pregnant after all!) and put on a hospital gown. I told the receptionist/nurse that I'd be staying in my own clothes, which seemed to offend her personally. After I went into the bathroom I heard her tell Shayne, "Well, she's not going to give birth in sweatpants!" Maybe not, but I sure as hell wasn't putting on something that would leave my ass bare to the world. So in my yoga pants and tank top I stayed.
The actual triage nurse was much more accomodating and let me stand up while I was being monitored. I continued with my belly-dance-through-a-contraction maneuvers until she was ready to do a pelvic exam. I was completely expecting to be only 2 cm. After all, first time mothers usually go slowly, and the contractions just didn't seem that painful. Nowhere near what I'd been expecting. To my surprise, I was nearly 7 cm. I hadn't shown up pushing, but it didn't look like I was going to be spending an eternity in the hospital either. I was admitted and called my doula to come on over. It was probably a little after 5:30 am by now, but from here on out my time sense got a little fuzzy.
Once I was in my L&D room I was put on cordless monitors because they weren't seeing the accelerations in the baby's heartbeat with each contraction. My doula arrived and we agreed to try a more aggressive positioning exercise (Texas Roll?) to try to ensure that the baby was not posterior. My back labor was a little worrisome to me as my mom had had the same thing and I had been jammed against her pelvis and unable to come out. I did NOT want a c-section if at all possible. So with the first exercise, I had to lay flat on my back with a rolled-up sheet under my lower back. It hyper-extends the lower back to allow the baby more room to reposition. And it hurts like hell. I stayed there for what felt like forever, then moved to the"roll-over" position. In that one you lay mostly on your belly with pillows under whichever side you want the baby to move to. That one hurt too, but I suppose most things having to do with labor do hurt...
After that I could feel that the baby was laying more "back to belly" than before. My midwife confirmed it, so I was "allowed" to resume laboring in any position I wanted. My back still really hurt through each contraction, though, even though the baby was supposedly in a better position. I tried laboring in the whirlpool tub, walking up and down the hall, and probaby a few other things that I don't remember. Nothing but standing up seemed to help the back pain, which really disappointed me. I'd had visions of a zen-like labor in the whirlpool, then a waterbirth. Not so much.
Around 11:30 (maybe?), I asked my doula if there was anything we could do to speed things along. I was getting really tired, and I didn't feel like my contractions were geting me anywhere. She said we could have my midwife break my water, assuming an internal exam showed that I was dilated enough. By breaking my water, my contractions would hopefully become more productive. She also expressed concern that I was so tired and didn't seem to be making any progress. I was really nervous about having any interventions, so I decided I'd try to rest for a while first. Shayne and I both laid down, and everyone left the room. Shayne got a nap, but my back hurt so much with each contraction that I pretty much just laid there and wondered why natural childbirth was so important to me. I still didn't want an epidural, but I totally understand why people get them. I felt like every muscle in my body was contracting right along with my uterus, even though I was trying so hard to relax.
After a while I got up, found my mom and my doula, and told them I wanted to have my water broken. I needed to get this over with, and that was the least invasive way we could all think of. So Kristen (my midwife) checked me, found I was 9+ cm, and used a crochet needle-looking instrument to try to break the bag of waters. Which didn't quite work. After 5 minutes of fishing around, she finally managed. For some reason, my membranes were extremely stretchy and tough, and she couldn't puncture it.
From that point on, things really got going. The contractions (and back pain) intensified, and I had a few panicky minutes where I swore I just couldn't do it. Shayne, my mom, and my doula all talked me through it, though, and a little while later they asked me if I wanted to try pushing.
The nurse hooked a bar to the bed, and I tried a few different positions. I didn't feel an urge to push, though, and I wasn't quite sure how to do it. Another pelvic exam, and Kristen found that there was a lip of cervix that was holding things up. I had to lay back down on my back, back on the rolled up sheet to tilt my pelvis, and Kristen held down the lip while I tried my best to push. After a few tries, I finally got a decent one or two, and the baby moved over the lip and into the birth canal.
Holy crap. I'd read on someone else's birth story that the pushing stage was like trying to shit a watermelon out your asshole. I can't describe it any better than that. I'm not even going to try. Pushing sucked more than anything I'd ever imagined and hurt like hell. At some point the folks at the business end said they could see the baby's head, and everyone kept saying how much hair he had. I kept thinking, "Who gives a shit how much hair this baby has... Get him OUT!" I lost my contraction while he was crowning and had to wait for the next until I could push him out. That was the worst part. I begged for a shot of lidocaine. My mom kept telling me to push, and I just couldn't. It felt like forever, but I finally had another contraction, and out he came.
Immediate relief. Ethan's hand had been up by his face, which was probably why I'd had such intense back labor. They quickly wiped him off and put him on my stomach. He DID have a lot of hair. And he was huge. I don't know that I was thinking much at this point, but I was (and still am) amazed that a fully-formed person came out of me.
So... I'd say I have a pretty good excuse for not getting anything done around the house for the next 3 months or so :)