Why a birth story? Because that is what women do. As a little girl, nothing fascinated me more than listening to my Tias in the kitchen at family gatherings talking about their births. “…And the head was THIS BIG!”… “My water gushed out like niagra falls while I yelled at my husband, GET ME A BEACH TOWEL!”… “I thought I was dying… then she came out and all the pain was forgotten.” I LOVE birth stories. I read every one I come across, no matter how dull or exciting. I am obsessed with the Birth Without Fear Blog and read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and was so empowered and PUMPED for birth after living through the births of sisters who have birthed before me. Birth stories not your thing? Then move along. Birth junkie? Read on. I say things like placenta, and membrane rupture and toilet. it’s the real deal. So here goes it!
I will not bore you with tales of how badly pregnancy drained me and how much I despise being pregnant. The short story is I was sick the entire pregnancy, I had such horrendous back pain that I was sent to physical therapy (helped not at all), and I had horrendous SPD. There is pretty much nothing I enjoy about pregnancy except not having to suck in my stomach and feeling the first kicks. I say FIRST kicks because my kids are so active in the womb, I do not enjoy the Irish jigs they dance day and night in my uterus for months.
I decided not to tell anyone my Estimated Due Date (EDD) because, your “Guess date” as I like to call it, is really no indicator of when you will have a baby. I told no one. Noah, my midwife and God knew. I always feel bad when a woman is approaching her EDD and everyone starts bugging her about when the baby will come and how she’s gonna have a big baby, and isn’t she overdue… I didn’t want to think about my EDD because I knew if I went over and people were asking me “Has that baby come yet?” I may go mental on them. Your EDD has a 2 week plus or minus swing on it, but in our impatient society, we like to think of an EDD as an expiration date, which it most certainly is not.
So, for all those nosey folks, my EDD was July 31st. And guess what? She didn’t come that day. Nor the day after, or the day after that day. With Captain I tried every natural induction scheme on the interwebs and he came when I gave up, so I didn’t bother this time around. I cried, and I wished her out, but I knew she would come when she was ready. At 40 weeks and 5 days the MEDwife I saw (not my normal, preferred Midwife) told me I would be scheduled for my induction at 41 weeks on the dot. I said that I trusted my body, and as much as I secretly wanted her out NOW, I was not about to have an unnecessary induction that could open itself to a bunch of other complications! She told me I would have a big baby and probably a c section, and I told her I would be fine, but agreed to a Non-stress test (NST) on the stroke of 41 weeks rather than an induction. I told her I would only consider an induction if something was truly wrong with my little Wombling or I was past 42 weeks. She gave me a look of disapproval and said she was transferring my care to the OB because she was no longer going to be responsible for my care after 41 weeks.
The afternoon before my NST brought on another wave of prodromal labor (or so I thought.) I had been in prodromal labor since 34 weeks. Contracting regularly with no baby at the end of it. At dinner I was breathing through the contractions and they were getting increasingly painful. I nursed Captain for what would be his last time not sharing me, and I contracted all through bath time and night time prayers and through my ritual couch cuddles and ice cream with Milk Man. I knew that this could be false labor again and so I decided I should get sleep since I had a 34 hour long labor with Captain and I wish I had slept before. So I slept and every few contractions would get so painful I would have to really wake up and breathe through it. By 2am I was in the throes of it. Breathing, and trying not to wake Milk Man and Captain who were sleeping away next to me. at 2:30 I had one of those where I couldn’t be quiet anymore. And I told Milk Man I needed his help to breathe through it. Of course, little Captain woke soon and wanted in on the fun. Milk Man suggested we call my mom an hour later and she came over to stay with Captain.
I labored on the couch and on the floor, incredibly excited for what lay ahead. See, as much as I hate pregnancy, I am obsessed with labor. I could watch birth videos instead of Hollywood movies every night with my popcorn and be in heaven. I looked forward to that sweet pain that labor brings all pregnancy long and it was really here.
I wanted to labor at home til I was crowning but MM and my mama were convinced I would go much quicker this time and urged me (somewhat against my judgment) that we should go to the hospital since its about 40 mins away. This is the first poor choice I made this time around. Anyway, armed with my ipod and pillow, I sang my way through contractions all the way to the hospital. Waterdeep is one of my favorite worship bands and their songs have brought me much comfort in the past, so I turned it way up and cried, and praised the Lord, and sang and breathed and gripped the heck out of MM’s free hand. He later said he knew I was in pain because it was the first time he’d heard me sing off-key! haha!
We got to the hospital and I didn’t want to go in, so convinced that my labor would stall the second I got to L&D. So we sat in the car and I labored there for about an hour. We went in and got checked in and when the Doc came into check me (my least favorite OB was on call!) I was only a 3. However, given my past experience, and seeing how I was reacting with contractions they advised me to stay. I wanted to leave so badly. But everyone thought this would be such a short labor and with morning rush hour upon us, everyone convinced me to stay.
I handed over my birth plan and turned up my ipod. As much as the staff may have preferred me to acquiesce to their desire to continuously monitor me while I was in bed and stuck to an IV and in a hospital gown, they respected my wishes. I was monitored 10 mins out of every hour while I sat on a birthing ball. I wore my labor uniform—Black tank and black skirt! and blasted techno and metal through every contraction, When I wasn’t on the ball being monitored, I was in the shower. MM and I had assembled a birth notebook with birth affirmations, scripture, songs, labor coping methods and dos and don’ts (Do NOT breathe on my when I am in labor, it drives me crazy… don’t reason with me… don’t fall asleep… DO talk to me… DO have a mint on hand if you are going to be close to me…. etc).
This labor, like my last was hard. And though everyone told me it was going to be a short labor, I knew it would be long. I was right.
For my 50 minutes off the monitors each hour, I labored in the shower. MM read to me and prayed for me, and for the 10-20 minutes I was being monitored, I would blast my music and labor on the birthing ball. The nurses jury rigged my monitors so I could be upright and have more freedom of movement.
When the on call midwife came in, I was stoked. Though she was not a midwife I knew previously, she used to do home births and was LOW KEY. The last person I need in my delivery room is someone who is as crazy as me. I need calm and docile. She was super cool and supportive. I was glad to have her on my side. She said she liked and agreed with my birth plan. She did, however want me to get a saline lock. I had a positive GBS and a negative and she said they might hold us back if I didn’t do the antibiotics. I wanted to hold off a little longer before I made my decision, and she didn’t pressure me.
I labored on. And On. AND ON. Hours went by. It was painful, but I was making my way through. I decided to do the saline lock after the nurse asked for the 5th time. And this is where my story goes downhill a little. First try for the IV: Failed. Second: Blew my vein. Third: Couldn’t get it in. Fourth: Called in another nurse and got that puppy in. Because they couldn’t get it on my left hand, it had to go in my dominant hand which I really didn’t want, but I didn’t have a choice. My wrists hurt so badly that I could no longer bear weight on them. Some where around this time, I told MM I needed back in the shower IMMEDIETLY to relieve some pain. I got in and let the hot water blast. And then it hit.
“No. No, no no, no, NO! OH, NO! NOT AGAIN! NO!”
MM Freaked out “What’s wrong babe?”
“NOOO! BACK. LABOR. NO! I can’t do this again! I can do regular labor, I can’t handle back labor!”
MM began praying. Each and every contraction after that was horrendous. Back labor is really difficult for me to handle. I go insane. At one point after an hour or so of back labor, MM asked what the loud banging in the shower was. It was me hitting my head on the shower bar as hard as I could trying to knock myself out. An hour or so later, I was laboring on the toilet (Yes, I know, so classy, but it is one of the most comfortable chairs to labor in!) and I began whacking my head on the bar on the back of the toilet and the nurse and MM had to tell me to stop. I wanted to get knocked out so I wouldn’t remember the pain.
Because they had jacked up my saline lock (Really not my nurses’ fault… I have lousy veins and they felt awful about it) I couldn’t bear weight on my wrists and being on all fours is one of the best ways to labor during back labor. We tried the TENs machine. Not helpful. Ice. Heat. The only thing that seemed to help was MM shaking my hips VIOLENTLY during a contraction. Almost like shaking the baby down. Sounds weird. Thanks to Ina May for that tip. Sounds strange, but you’ll do anything to get some relief from back labor.
And then the moments came. I began begging for drugs. I was so upset with Noah for following my instructions to not argue with me but change the subject. “Babe, I’m serious, get me the epidural now. Babe, NOW.”
“Hey honey, remember our honeymoon? …”
“MM, you aren’t listening, get the nurse NOW!”
“Um, baby, look at how cute our little Captain is in this picture”.
After a couple hours of that, he gave in and got the anesthetist. I was afraid everyone was going to hate me and judge me. I am sure they all did, but I was losing it mentally from her little skull pounding on my tailbone! It was an hour before they could come in. The guy was nice. And then I realized he was a student and had the anesthesiologist shadowing him. No biggie.
The escorted Noah out and brought in Clyde (the stabilizers for epidurals in our hospital are nicknamed Bonnie and Clyde!) and asked half a million questions. I tried so hard to be still. I tried so hard to relax.
Clean, sting, needle, catheter, OUCH. Something hit my spine in a weird way. He wiggled it around. I heard him and the anesthesiologist conferring. She seemed annoyed. The nurse was trying to breathe with me as I had to remain completely still.
“Its not working. We have to start over.” Okay, breathe, breathe.
New stuff gets laid out. Be still, be still! Clean, sting, needle, catheter, OUCHHHH!! My Body convulsed and I was told to be still (Rightly so, lets not cause any spinal cord damage, shall we?) That little bugger was being moved and swirled for a long time. The anesthesiologist took over and was wiggling it around. “We can’t get it in the correct spot. There’s a barrier, something is keeping me from being able to get it in. We have to try again.”
I began bawling. Did I really want this? YES. YES, I DID!
New stuff, round 3. Clean, sting., needle, catheter and ouch again. It took a LOT of fenegaling. They had to insert it in an abnormal place. Finally.
MM says that all took about an hour. So, MM comes back in the room and in about 15 minutes I am finally getting some relief. About 80% of the pain disappears, but it was enough to let me get some rest. I’d been up for a very long time. In about 40 minutes I begin breathing really heavily again, MM asked what was wrong and I told him the pain was coming back. Within 10 minutes I was feeling about 10% relief. I used the pump to administer more drugs and it did nothing. The nurse came in and asked if I wanted to speak to the anesthesiologist. So they send them both in and they shoot the medicine right into the catheter. I get about 70% pain relief. Within 20 minutes the pain was back in full force. Clearly, my body didn’t want the drugs. They offered to re do the epi for a 4th time, and I just asked them to turn it off since it wasn’t helping. The good news is that it was enough pain relief to make me sane again. The bad news is the contractions felt like a jackhammer hitting my tailbone. I took videos of myself telling my future self to never have a baby again and to remember the only reason to ever go to a hospital again is for the delicious ice chips. They are pretty funny to watch now.
So labor continued and the sun set and I was tired but I kept my music loud and my prayers short and frequent. My sweet Milkman snuck me bits of food and sips of Gatorade.
The MW checked me and said my membranes had ruptured and I was a 7. I informed her they hadn’t ruptured and we went back and forth on that one and I said whatever, maybe they did! About 20 minutes later I had a hard contraction and there was a gush. Water everywhere. NOW my membranes had ruptured. Oh, the pretty parts of labor! I went to an 8 after that. She said I was close to a 9 and as she checked me apparently I had another rupture and a whole bunch more water. Boom. 10 centimeters.
I told her I didn’t want to push until I felt the urge. I have known far too many women who hear “You’re 10! Start pushing!” and 3 hours of exhaustion and a c section later, they wish they had waited til their body was ready, not til a magic number was announced. So I labored down and I breathed through urges and then I called for her and informed her I was ready. That seems simple right? Wrong. Its hard to not push when you want to push. Blowing those contractions out took a great deal of concentration!
So, anyways, ready. She was awesome about not counting or telling me when to push or how hard. I told her I didn’t want to tear and she said she’d make sure I didn’t. So, I pushed when I felt like it, all the while listening to some incredibly motivating Metal on my ipod! (Though when the baby crowned I began singing Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire quite loudly which I think surprised the nurse!)
20 minutes and no tears later, Mamitas came earthside at 8 something in the evening after 24 hours of labor, screaming her little face off. I wept immediately and MM looked crazed with joy (was it joy that his daughter was here or that labor was over?). I exclaimed “She’s so tiny!” and the MW said, “No she’s not! She is a big girl!” (I guess she seemed tiny compared to my toddler! She was a whole pound and inch bigger than Captain, at 8lbs 7ozs and 21 inches long). We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and she screamed and screamed and I cried and cried with happiness. Once the cord was done pulsing, Noah cut it and she was her own little person now. She was super fluidy in her lungs so they tried to aspirate more from her and checked her out a little extra which they don’t normally do, but she was fine. I finally yelled over to MM, “give her back to me now! I want to nurse!” He brought her over and she latched on and we were connected again.
The nurse brought me a giant club sandwich and apple juice and MM prepared my favorite post birth snack: Graham Crackers and peanut butter! I signed a release to have my placenta bagged and thrown in our cooler for encapsulation (more to come in a future post on that one!) and we just stared and marveled at our little one as the room cleared out of everyone but us three. Mamitas was loud and red and squinty eyed and fat. Just perfect.
We ended up in the hospital longer than I had hoped (Making MM more agreeable to the idea of a home birth in the future), but the highlights of our stay were making it really clear to the staff that we didn’t want to be bothered at night so we could sleep, an awesome heart to heart with the lactation consultant about cosleeping and tandem nursing. Staring at our little chublet and soaking in the quiet moments. And the best? Seeing our babies meet for the first time. Sweetest thing in the world.
Was it the birth I had planned? No, not completely, but mostly as planned. I am happier with how it went than my first, probably helps that it was a whole ten hours shorter than my first labor!
Tune in next time for tandem nursing joys and placenta munching. WHAT?! Yeah, that.