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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Birth Story: Part II

Here's the second part to our birth story. It is long...just like the labor! There are pictures so feel free to skip all the reading if you're not interested in the story. I mostly wrote this so I could have it on record in the future.

Tuesday, August 11:
I woke up from a nap at 4pm and the contractions began to get uncomfortable around 6:30pm. Dave and I started watching Nacho Libre but an hour later we took the dogs to the dog park to exercise them. I was afraid that if we waited until the movie was over that the contractions would be much more intense and I wouldn't be able to go.

The boys went out for Chipotle burritos after that. They brought me a side of the delicious lemon-cilantro rice. I didn't want to eat too much or too heavily (except for that cupcake I ate for dessert...) since I figured I'd get nauseous at some point. I hate throwing up!

I played around on my laptop for a while, just waiting and waiting.By midnight the contractions were still manageable. My temperature was still normal and the baby was moving around a lot between contractions.

Since I knew I'd be in labor soon, I suggested that the boys go to bed ASAP so they could rest in case we had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. We all crawled into bed around 1am. I was back up at 1:15am because I couldn't handle the contractions lying down--I had to be standing and pacing. So as the boys slept for like 8 hours, I paced the house and dealt with the pain as best I could (with breathing and movement).

Dave had downloaded a contraction timer so to distract myself further, I kept track of the contractions on the laptop all night long.

Wednesday, August 12:
At 2pm we returned to the birthing center for a scheduled visit to check my progress--I was 3cm and they could see the baby's head of hair!After a lot of discussion about pros/cons of induction and pain relief (I didn't want either if at all possible), the midwife gave me a mild medicine to make me sleepy so I could rest for labor. I hadn't slept at all the night before or the night my water broke (from the excitement) so I was utterly exhausted. The medicine didn't dull the pain at all, just made me more sleepy than I was before. Looking back, I shouldn't have taken the medicine because it only made my pain worse since I didn't have the strength to deal with it well.

You'll notice I'm not smiling in this picture:As the afternoon progressed, the pain got worse and worse but the contractions didn't get much closer together (still between 2-5 minutes).

Around 5pm Edward went to Target and bought a yoga ball for me to sit on, hoping it'd make it easier. It didn't! The only way I could handle the contractions by 6pm was by standing and moaning through them.
At 8pm I admitted defeat and told Dave that I just couldn't handle it anymore and we had to go to the birthing center to either push the baby out or to get some pain relief. Dave called the birthing center and told them we were coming in because the pain was too intense to handle at home, but that my contractions didn't meet the 3-1-1 rule quite yet. (They were about 1 minute long but varied from 2-5 minutes apart.)

The pain was so bad and I was so exhausted from not sleeping for so long that I couldn't really stand up much longer. My eyes were closed to deal with the pain and because of exhaustion so I had to be led around when walking.

This time the nurses didn't triage me, they just put us into on of the labor/delivery rooms. We began to get me ready for the warm tub, but it was clear that I wasn't coherent enough to be in the water. They suggested a hot shower, but I told them I wanted an epidural. I seriously thought that if the pain continued (let alone got worse) I would rather die and just let them save the baby.

They checked me and I was 5cm dilated by then.

It was really hard for me to let myself ask for something as major as an epidural. My dreams for this birth included no pain medication or augmentation. I figure that as just another mammal on this planet, whose species have been giving birth without medication for eons, I should be able to do it, too. Humph!

After I told the nurses and midwife I wanted an epidural, I remember sort of wimpering about my choice to Dave and asked him if he was disappointed in me. Of course, he wasn't. Throughout the pregnancy he supported my choice for med-free but said all he cared about was a healthy baby and mama at the end of the delivery.

At this point the resident doctor (Dr. Moeller) suggested that the baby was "direct OP" (sunnyside up) and that was causing the intense back labor. The midwife said it was likely the baby would right himself in time for delivery so nothing was done about it. Other than opt for a c-section, I'm not sure what all could have been done about it anyway.

I thought I might die when they said I'd have to wait for 30 minutes for the anesthesiologist to arrive and then sit still for another 20 minutes while it was installed. Sitting hunched over the table while it was installed was the worst moment of my entire life. Enduring the contractions without being able to move was so, so bad I cannot even express it adequately.

The epidural kicked in immediately and I was able to sleep (as were the boys) for a few hours. Poor Edward slept on the floor with a pillow because there was only one pull-out bed in the labor room and Dave was using it.

Thursday, August 13:
Around 3am (without turning the epidural down) they had me try pushing for 30 minutes since I was fully dilated by this point. Since I couldn't feel where to push it seemed like a wasted effort even though they assured me it was not. They let me rest for an hour before trying again, hoping that my uterus would take care of some of the work by itself during my now pain-free contractions.

I pushed again at 4am, but not much happened.

They called the anesthesiologist to come turn the epidural down by half. They also put me on pitocin to get the contractions closer together and therefore work more efficiently. The pain returned but not nearly as badly as before.

I then pushed from 5:30am-10:21am for a total of about 6 hours. Luckily, the sheet tied to the squat bar on the bed blocked my view of the clock. Otherwise I'm SURE I would have lost all hope if I'd known just how long I'd been pushing.

Dave and Edward held my feet in place on the bar for me while I either used the sheet or my thighs to push. Hoping to get the baby to turn over, I alternated between pushing on my back and either side. My left leg was so numb still that I had very little control of it so turning over was difficult.

I pushed with every ounce in my body--they always say that the proper push is like having the biggest bowel movement of your life. So that's what I focused on. The midwife, doctor, and nurses kept saying I was doing it right but that the baby's position was just making it hard to get him out from under the pelvic bone.

At one point the midwife repeated the whole bowel-movement thing. I told her I understood the concept. She came over to me and quietly asked if I was embarrassed about having a bowel movement during pushing. I said, "No, of course not! That's exactly the kind of pushing I'm aiming for. I want to get this baby out!"

It is funny to me that so many women are concerned about pooping during birth. It is just poop, in my opinion. And when you're spread eagle for all to see, who cares? Most women poop anyway and the nurses just wipe it away super fast.

Edward said that my face looked like pure agony (duh) and Dave said that with each push he watched my face go from pink to red to orange to purple from pushing so hard. I felt like my eye balls were going to pop out of my face.

Between pushes, I'd reach down and feel the baby's head--there certainly was a lot of hair!

Finally, after much encouragement from everyone present (Edward, Dave, the nurse, our wonderful midwife named Jessica, and Dr. Moeller) he was born. I could feel his head sticking out for hours and it was SO nice to feel the rest of his body just slide right out after all that work.My eyes were SO puffy by the end that I couldn't even open them all the way. My eyes had been closed almost constantly since the day before due to pain and exhaustion.

Because he emerged so slowly, I didn't tear much at all (only requiring 3 sutures, each in different places). The midwife was surprised/pleased that I wasn't bleeding much and that I didn't tear or have any hemorrhoids. (You can be sure I'm more pleased about that than she was!)Eddie's head was horribly misshapen. He had a huge lump the size of a golf ball sticking out from the right side of his head and it was already beginning to bruise. Luckily, by the time we left the hospital his head was perfect, minus some bruising.

We spent the next 2 days recovering in the birthing center's postpartum room, which had the most uncomfortable bed EVER. It was great to have all the support for breastfeeding and the attentive doctors, nurses, and midwives to care for us. But it was SO hard to get ANY rest during recovery since it seemed like there were always people coming into the room. I'd hoped to have some friends come to visit, but after John and Jessica came I sent a text to everyone else and asked them to hold off.

My baby boy meeting his namesake, my brother: As expected, Dave fell in love hard and fast:
The birthing center encourages skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth so if everything seems fine, once the baby is born and laid on your chest he doesn't leave that spot for several hours. They don't bother weighing or bathing until mama and baby have had time to bond. Fathers are also encouraged to have skin-to-skin time...Dave seized the opportunity to bond with Eddie and stripped off his shirt, too:
It only occurred to me a few days ago just how much Edward and Dave had to endure during my labor and delivery process. I kept thinking about how long six hours of pushing was, but only from my perspective since I was doing all that hard work. But then I realized that those guys had to stand there, holding up my dead-weight legs, encourage me, and endure watching me. That can't have been easy. I hope they both know how much I appreciate them being there for me.


mu rye uh said...

aww I am so proud of you it sounds like you did so so so well! I didn't care about pooping either I wandered around naked except for a sports bra. And back labor is the worse. I felt the same way with Andrew and I really thought "God just kill me now!" Your body is so strong to have been able to have a baby after that long and think how strong little eddie is! Three places? I have an idea and if it was sideways I think that is the worst, okay so I tend to leave like paragraphs as comments. Well, I have great advice on how to go to the bathroom if stuff stings while going....a bit TMI but it worked for me

steph.kelley said...

Oh Julie, you are a champ. And Dave and Edward too, as you said. What an epic. So vivid and powerful that I got lightheaded just reading it! (That's a good Pearson for you: practical in all things save medical adventures.) My warmest praise and highest respect goes out to you, brave mama. I hope to have one-tenth of your strength when I give birth myself (gulp).

LSharkey said...

Just re-read this and it made me cry! In a good way!