Thursday, April 3, 2014

Charity's Birth Story

Since Charity was born I have thought off and on about the labor and delivery, processing a little more of it in my mind each time. Each time I re-read the extensive notes from our doula, it becomes a little more real; I remember a little more or realize that I have no memory of other details. Much of it still seems surreal.

I had switched to a new OB at the beginning of this pregnancy and really, really like her. We discussed my previous pregnancies, labors and deliveries (both induced with pitocin; one at 40w 5d and one at 41w 1d) and she was happy to let me go past 41 weeks in hopes that I could have a spontaneous labor. We were both in agreement that an induction would be the way to go in the event there would be a reason to induce. Just last night Mom told me that "people" (I assume my sisters ;) ) were asking her if I would allow an induction if something were to go wrong or start to go wrong. Yes, yes, I certainly would!!

My due date with Charity came and went, and the following week I had 2 appointments. The first one on Monday was an ultrasound and Non-Stress Test. The 2nd appointment was on Friday and was just an NST. At both appointments everything was just fine and the baby passed with flying colors.

A few times that week - between 40 and 41 weeks - I had more serious feeling contractions that I thought were the real thing, but each time they stopped after 20-30 minutes. Once I even started walking the stairs in hopes to keep them going but as soon as I started they stopped. Each time they stopped was a little disappointing but I could only keep waiting, hoping and praying that our baby would be born in God's timing. I admit that I was growing weary of being pregnant and all the discomforts and hindrances that go with being what feels like the size of a beached whale with legs.

On Sunday the 23rd, we celebrated Daniel's birthday. It was also the last day of his on-call routine. Sunday morning I felt different. The baby was again in such a way that I was experiencing frequent nerve pain in my one leg, and overall things just felt uncomfortable and achy. Daniel had a call to go on Sunday afternoon and I was wondering if we were going to have the baby that day. When the end of the day came and no labor and no baby, I breathed a mental sigh. We had gotten through Daniel's week of on-call and through his birthday. We had made it through ALL the March birthdays without having a shared birthday!

Monday morning I had another appointment for an ultrasound and NST. The lady keeping Susannah and Sylvia during the appointment met me in the parking lot and we traded cars. I had mentioned to her Sunday afternoon that I might just throw the girls' "hospital bags" in the car with them in the event something was up and I would need to have the baby Monday. She joked back that if I left the bags at home the chances were higher of that happening. :-)  I went to my appointment with plans to go from there to the chiropractor to get some relief for my back.

The ultrasound technician took a good look at everything and said the baby looked good. Next I was hooked up to the NST machine and started the movement counts. Baby was very obviously asleep but I wasn't concerned because I had felt plenty of wiggles that morning already. My doctor came in and started going over the routine questions and then asked if the ultrasound tech had mentioned anything to me. I said no, just that everything looked good.

As it turned out, the amniotic fluid level had dropped from 8.9 (the previous Monday) to 3. I was a little let down; I'd been drinking lots and lots of water in an effort to keep the level up. Dr. P talked with me a little more and said that even though the ultrasound technician recommended an induction that day, the choice was totally up to me. The baby passed all the tests with flying colors so she felt the baby was fine but also went over the possible risks involved with waiting (all things I was familiar with). If we wanted to wait a few more days, she was fine with our decision and kindly let me have some time to talk to Daniel on the phone. I really appreciated that she was not pressuring us one way or the other.

After talking with Daniel we both felt that Monday was a good day to have our baby! I quickly sent texts to our babysitter and to our doula to let them know what was going on. I then spent some time talking with Dr. P, asking questions about the induction and skimming over the things important to me with an induced labor. Mainly, I did not like pitocin and did not want it if  my body would labor without it. It was not Dr. P's day to be at the hospital, but she assured me that she would send orders to the on-call Dr. about the pitocin and told me Dr. C would take good care of me.

I headed home to meet Daniel and get my hospital bag. On the way home I stopped and ate a meaty lunch: KFC's 3 pc. chicken tenders with a biscuit and green beans. It was about 11:30 when I ate. I wasn't really hungry but my wise doula said to eat lunch so I did. I was also drinking lots and lots of water. Having had to fast before previous inductions (so cruel!), I wasn't a fan of going into labor hungry or thirsty!

Daniel and I got to the hospital at 2:00pm and I had to walk down and register myself. That took several minutes and I was surprised that neither Daniel nor our doula had gotten to my room by the time I returned to it. I had turned my phone off on the way to the hospital, so I turned it back on and called Daniel. It turned out that L&D got REALLY busy about the time I arrived and the nurses had forgotten to let him in when I got back from registering. :-)

My nurse, Susan, started the long, long process of questions and answers before giving me an IV port. Just a port was something I had requested because I wanted to be free to move around if I didn't need to be hooked up to an IV. She did a great job and got a vein on the first try. Again much better when I'm well  hydrated vs. having fasted for a whole night! It was then that I met the on-call doctor for the first time. I liked her right away. She had a happy personality and without looking at notes or anything talked about what I wanted and how she was going to work with my wishes. She then did her own exam and broke my water at 3:30pm. I was 4cm dilated, 50% effaced and baby was at -3 station. I then had to be on the monitors for 20 minutes. During that time our doula, Amy, applied pressure to points just above my ankles to stimulate contractions.  She also had Clary Sage and Eucalyptus essential oils diffusing in the room. Clary Sage to stimulate contractions and Eucalyptus because I was having some horrible sinus pressure (that had woken me up at 3:00 that morning). I asked the nurse for some Tylenol for the sinus pressure and that helped relieve the pain and let me focus on the bigger task at hand: having our baby!

After the 20 minutes on the monitor were up, I was free to move around. Amy took us to the stairs and I went up and down 3 flights asymmetrically 3 times. (Oh, I should mention here that another desire of mine this time was to wear my own clothes which was really nice.) Amy had me do a few other things, including some deep squats and some lunges. I did some on the side of the bed in my room, then I got on a birthing ball to do some more. At that point the baby shifted and a whole flood of amniotic fluid let loose! There went my pair of "labor" pants!! I changed into a gown, but kept my top clothes on underneath it.

At 4:50pm I spent another 20 minutes on the monitor and during this time Amy again applied pressure to my ankles and then gave me a hand massage with an oil blend including Rosemary Oil to stimulate contractions. So far a whole hour had passed with no noticeable contractions. I was a little disappointed but Amy kept me distracted and busy enough that I didn't think about it too much. During this time she also fixed me a cup of hot tea which really soothed my sore throat.

At 5:10pm I was free of the monitors again. During the next 40 minutes Amy had me go through more routines and Daniel and I also walked the loop around L&D. During this time contractions started and were about 5 minutes apart, lasting 1-2 minutes. I could still walk and talk through them just fine.

At 5:45pm I was put back on the monitors. During this time I really felt the contractions get more intense. I knew exactly why I disliked laboring lying in the bed with pitocin for my previous labors! It was no fun at all and so much more painful than other positions. Amy helped me get through them as they grew and I really enjoyed the breaks between them. The breaks were still long enough that I felt hungry; Amy brought me some jello and chicken broth. I wolfed down the jello and started in on the broth, which tasted so good and was very soothing on my throat. Towards the end of the monitoring I had to really start paying attention to the contractions.

At 6:10pm I was free of the monitors again and needed to go to the bathroom (Yay! Another thing I wanted to do differently this time: use the TOILET and not a bed-pan). I didn't realize it, but it took me 15 minutes to do that. I remember having a contraction on the way to the bathroom and having to stop for it, doing what Amy calls "slow dancing" with Daniel. Then I had one while I was in the bathroom, but I had no idea 15 minutes passed during all that time. After that I stayed out of the bed, laboring while holding onto Daniel and leaning over into him with each contraction. I remember hearing Amy tell Daniel, "It's a good thing you have your belt on today," and thinking it was funny but I couldn't laugh. I also remember shoving against him with my hands to get him to back up so I could lean over more. I felt rude pushing him away but in the moment couldn't explain why I was pushing him away. I had no sense of time anymore. I also started feeling nauseated at the peak of each contraction. Thankfully I never threw up but it did get bad enough at one point that I said I felt sick; people flew into action finding me something to throw up into!

At 7:15pm Dr. C and my new nurse, Janice, came in to check on me. I don't remember how long they were there. At that point almost everything was very background and if I didn't HAVE to pay attention to it I didn't. They did a check and I was 6cm, 100% effaced and the baby was at 0 station. I only remember hearing 6cm. and thinking "is that ALL??!!" but quickly I was distracted and back to business. I think it may have been at this time that Dr. C leaned down to make eye-contact with me and said very directly (because at that point I was not focused on anything other than getting through contractions) "I want you to know that I will deliver your baby however and wherever you want me to. Even if you want to have it in the shower I will get in the shower with you and deliver your baby," then jokingly added, "not that I really want to get in the shower with you..." I had not ever considered how or where I would have the baby,but it was nice to hear her say that.

At this point it was suggested that I might like to get in the shower. Dr. C suggested that 30 minutes in the shower might get me dilated the rest of the way, Amy joked that it might only take 15 minutes. It was 7:45 when Amy and Daniel helped me get to the shower and I labored on my hands and knees for a little bit before my arms got tired (somehow my arms seemed to get tired really fast that day?). Amy brought in the birthing ball and I labored on that. Somehow I managed to notice that the water seemed to be getting deeper around my feet and I asked if the ball was covering the drain. I managed to be concerned about flooding the bathroom, ha! It turned out that every little bit I had to stand up so they could move the ball and let the water drain. Daniel and Amy took turns holding the shower head where it was most comfortable for me and applying counter pressure to my low back. I remember at one point one of them started to apply the counter pressure when another contraction started and that time it did not feel good and I said a very curt "no". It was soon after this that I started to feel pressure with the contractions. I had gotten epidurals by this time with my previous labors so this was a whole new feeling for me, but I could feel the pressure and knew what it was. After a few more contractions like that, Amy left to get the nurse.

At 8:00pm they helped me get back onto the bed where I continued laboring on my hands and knees. I had no desire to lie down. I hadn't given any previous thought to positions, I was just going with what felt right. Dr. C came in to observe and the nurse checked me as I had started to push with contractions. I was 8cm with a thick anterior lip. The consensus was that the baby was OP (meaning facing my front instead of my back). It was at this point that I thought I had reached the end of all I could take. During the next short break in between contractions I asked if it was too late for an epidural. Right then the next contraction started and I heard someone say "It's never too late!" During that contraction I had to push with all my might and felt something that was different from what I'd felt with the previous contractions. Immediately after that feeling, the baby's head was delivered. That feeling I experienced was the baby rotating!

I wasn't aware of it until Daniel and Amy told me about it, but Dr. C didn't have her gloves on yet. The famous line from this moment is the nurse telling Dr. C, "GET YOUR GLOVES ON!!"

With the next contraction and two more pushes I delivered the rest of our baby at 8:07pm (About 3 hours since I started feeling contractions.). They passed her to me between my knees and told me to look and see what the baby was. I remember hearing them but not hearing them. Then Amy got up close to my head and said "Miriam, they're passing you your baby between your legs; reach down and pick it up!" I had to look twice since my brain was so foggy, but I saw that we'd had another girl!! :-)  I immediately picked her up and laid down in the bed cradling her to myself (someone must have lowered the head of the bed, I don't remember that either) in complete awe. Not just the awe of having had a baby, but in awe that I did it!! I couldn't believe that I had just labored and delivered naturally. I couldn't believe how easy and hard it had been at the same time. It was just all mind boggling to me.

No moments in time compare to the moment when you're meeting
for the first time the precious life you've carried for 9 months inside,
right beneath your heart.

After a while Daniel was able to cut the cord and eventually they weighed her and got her all taken care of. I was guessing she would weigh somewhere in the 9 pound range, and sure enough she was 9 pounds, 6.6 ounces. When I was able to nurse her for the first time, she latched right on with very little trouble.

We're so glad our little girl is here!!!


sally said... [Reply to comment]

A-maz-ing! I'm so happy you got to live out at least a big part of your dream of delivering a baby. I'm even happier that everyone is healthy, living, and happy. God is so good! (I've just read this quickly (skimmed it), and I can't wait to read it thoroughly tonight.)

cheveux rouge said... [Reply to comment]

SO proud of you! What an inspiring birth story. Thank you for sharing it! Just beautiful. xo Julie E

sally said... [Reply to comment]

I just read this entirely. Miriam, that is awesome! You did a great big job, and you did it so well. Wow! What a great experience. So happy for you. I believe all the "little" things you did all along the way--switching doctors, the doula, and whatever else, were just paving the way for your natural delivery. As I've heard before, success and failure is rarely just what happens at the moment, but rather all the little decisions/actions/events that lead up to it determine the success or failure.

I'm still looking forward to meeting Charity.

Davene Grace said... [Reply to comment]

What a BEAUTIFUL birth story! Congratulations - again! - on Charity's birth; I'm just thrilled about how it all worked out. :)

But I have a question: what does it mean to go up and down stairs asymmetrically?

Thanks for taking the time to share all the precious details in the story; I know you'll treasure this so much in days to come.

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

Miriam, this is such an inspiring birth story! I LOVED reading it! I am so glad you got to do it "your way" even in the hospital setting. It sounds like you had a great doctor and support team!

Judith Bowman said... [Reply to comment]

What a blessing that this birth was an answer to so many prayers. Good work! When I got home I had told Rennie that I hadn't had the opportunity to hear your birth story today.
Charity is beautiful just like the rest of your girls! No surprise there!

Amanda said... [Reply to comment]

A wonderful birth story! So glad you were able to do it in a way you were comfortable with and that everyone is okay!!!

Rachel said... [Reply to comment]

I am floored that your labors are so short. (I'm sure it did not feel short to you!) It is so interesting how the process is so different for each person and each baby. The doula sounds really nice. Both times I was to busy puking my guts out to get anything else done; that is something I would like to forego if we have another baby!

Katie said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for sharing your birth story! Why is it that us women love a good birth story?! :) I'm so glad that Charity's birth went smooth and you have that sweet little girl in your arms :)

Amy Rollogas said... [Reply to comment]

@Davene Grace
Amy the doula here... Doing the stairs asymmetrically is going up sideways. You stand facing the rail and raise your foot up one step and bring the other along side it. You do this all the way up the flight of stairs only using one foot to raise yourself up the steps. Each time you do this movement, it changes the shape of the pelvis slightly allowing the baby to gradually get into a better position and put pressure on the cervix.

David W. Fisher said... [Reply to comment]

@Amy RollogasThanks so much, Amy, for your reply! I've never heard of that, but the way you explained it makes perfect sense. I'm going to keep it in mind, if I ever get to have another baby. :) Thanks again!

Davene Grace said... [Reply to comment]

@Amy RollogasI'm afraid that might have shown up as a comment from my son's account - oops! :)