imsarah: Rebekah's Birth Story
Wednesday, September 24, 2008 1:24 PM
"She opened her mouth and latched on as soon as I gave her a chance. She has been a champion nurser since the beginning..."
On Thursday, May 22, my mom and I were running some errands around town when at about 10:30 a.m. I began to feel an ache in my lower back. It soon passed, but at our next stop, I noticed my back ached again. I thought, "My due date is tomorrow. Maybe things are getting started." I came home and took a nap that afternoon, in case I was going to need my energy. All day the backache continued to come and go. I told my DH, David, in the late-afternoon that I felt things were going to get started that night or the next day.
David had a church meeting that night from 7 p.m. to 9, so I went to my mom's house to take a bath and hang out. We had spaghetti for dinner, because I read you should eat carbs before labor, just like running a marathon. At 7:30 I told my mom, "These backaches are getting more frequent." She suggested I time them, because when she was in labor, she didn't really how close things really were. I timed them at four minutes apart! They were short though, lasting only 30 seconds.
Soon after, I got in the bath tub to relax. I had been considering a water birth and definitely wanted to labor in the birthing pool for awhile. I had read that if you get in the water too early it can slow down or even stop your labor, and I figured this wouldn't be a bad thing since David wasn't home yet! But the contractions continued to be regular and then lengthened to 45 seconds and then one minute apart.
Laboring at home
I waited to until five minutes after 9 p.m. to call David. I wanted him to go get our bags and come to my parents' house after his meeting, because I didn't feel like driving back and forth across town. He didn't answer, so I called again at 9:15, 9:30, and 9:45. I was leaving quite grumpy messages at this point! I had never wanted my mom to be with me during labor, but I was so thankful that she was there! I got out of the tub and laid on a blanket on her bathroom floor. I was really uncomfortable on my back, so I laid on my stomach and partially on my side, like our Bradley book suggested. I finally got a hold of David around 9:45 and he profusely apologized for having his phone on silent. I told him he got the bad husband/labor coach award, but he more than made up for it later.
David arrived at my parents' house around 10 p.m., and by then I couldn't even talk through my contractions. I called people in between contractions and felt just fine, but as soon as one would come, I had to hand the phone to someone else. I called the midwives and told them my status. I don't think they really believed me, since I was a first-time mom. They said they were going to go to bed and getting a little rest, and to call back in a few hours. (They had delivered two babies in two days, and ours made three babies in three days) I wouldn't call the contractions painful, just a lot of pressure, like a strong backache. The only time it was actually painful was when I was on my back.
I tried to get back in the bathtub, but since I was having such back labor, I couldn't recline. Trying to lay on your stomach or on all fours in the tub is too difficult. I felt like I was drowning during contractions. So we decided the tub thing just wasn't going to work. Instead, I spent some time in the shower, which felt good on my back; but mostly I laid on the floor on my stomach.
I wanted to be at the birthing center at midnight, but I had told David weeks before that I didn't want to be hanging out there for hours and hours. So he kept postponing every time I brought it up. He was doing such a good job coaching me to relax and breathe deeply. Finally at 12:30 I said, "I am serious. I want to go now. I don't care if we're there too early." He called, thinking they would say to come right then, but she said she would meet us in half-an-hour. "Whoops," he thought, "I hope we're not cutting this too close."
Heading to the birthing center
We loaded the car for the short drive and on the way there I had a couple of contractions. Although it was really hard to talk through them, I joked with David not to miss his exit. He says he never missed an exit before he met me, but he certainly does now. The midwife wasn't there yet when we arrived, so we stood in the parking lot. The stars were so bright that night and I could clearly see the Big Dipper. I had a couple of contractions in the parking lot and we praised God that I got to labor under starlight rather than under glaring obstetric lights. We also prayed that when she checked me I would be dilated to at least six centimeters.
Not long after, Shanna, one of the midwives, arrived. I had picked the blue birthing room with the big canopy bed. (I was convinced I was having a boy, so I wanted the blue room.) When she checked me around 1:30, I was dilated to nine centimeters! She said, "You guys have been working hard! I better call your other midwife if she wants to be here for this birth."
At this point I hit panic mode. A nine?! I kept thinking, No, no, I'm not ready. I don't feel like pushing, I don't know how to push; I don't want to! I was totally freaking out. David prayed for me and made me repeat the verse I had clung to throughout pregnancy, "God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
I walked around until Kelli, the other midwife arrived. During contractions I would put my arms around David's neck and leaned on him. Gravity is a wonderful thing, and I am confident it helped me progress so quickly. The contractions changed from feeling like a backache, to now feeling like a huge giant was behind me pushing down really hard on my hips. I still wouldn't call it painful, just intense pressure.
Time to push!
By 2:30 I felt like pushing, but I was still afraid and unsure. The books I read all spent chapters and chapters on labor and contractions and breathing. But for the pushing stage it would be really short like, "To push, bear down as if having a bowel movement." Okay, but how? I just didn't feel like I knew how to do it. That's when Shanna, the super midwife, gave me a pep talk, "Sarah," she said, "During the contractions, you didn't have much say in the matter. Your body was in control and you just had to ride through it. But this pushing stage is completely up to you. You are the only one who can push that baby out. And you can do it in 10 pushes or 100 pushes. It's just a matter of you deciding that you are going to do it."
Okay! I was ready. In total I pushed for 46 minutes. I started standing beside the bed and squatting down whenever a contraction would come. This is a very effective position, but it is pretty tiring. I had been pretty quiet throughout labor, but with the urge to push came the urge to scream. Shanna told me that when I screamed I was tightening up all the muscle in my body, so if I was going to make noise I should make very low, deep noises. I am sure I sounded goofy moaning, groaning, and grunting from then on.
Finding the right position
After awhile Kelli suggested I get up on the bed and lay on my back with my knees pulled to my chest. Sure, why not try it? I lay on my back and as the contraction came I started screaming, "No, no no!" Horrible pain. They quickly rolled me to my side to get through that contraction. If I had been in some hospitals where mobility is limited to laying on my back in bed, I would have said, "Give me the drugs, give me the surgery, just get me out of here." I am so thankful that I had the option to be in different positions and move around and find what worked for me.
I got on my hands and knees on the bed and this was how I delivered. My water had not yet broken, so there was a bubble of the sack of waters on top of the baby's head. Soon Kelli said, "Reach down and feel your baby's head!" I had been anticipating this moment, but when I reached down I felt that bubble and it was all squishy. "No, no, no," I said, "I don't like that!"
David was standing in front of me, and during each contraction I would grip him really hard. At one point I hit a pressure point under his armpit and he thought he was going to pass out. I can't imagine going through that without him.
I don't know how long it had been at this point, but I was ready to be done.
I was yelling, "Get out Baby, get out!" I got really determined and started counting and pushing. When the baby's head crowned, I'm not going to pretend like that wasn't painful! I was so glad that we had done stretching exercises beforehand, so I had felt that sensation before.
The baby's head came out at 3:18, but she wasn't officially delivered until 3:19. Once the head was out, Kelli was coaching me to stop pushing, "Okay, now slowly. Now stop. Okay, slowly once more." The baby's shoulders both came out at the same time, but because they were coaching me so well and I was going so slowly, I didn't tear at all. I had a great team! They told me the baby's head was out, but I didn't hear any crying. I kept asking why I didn't hear crying and they said the baby wouldn't cry until it was completely delivered.
Sure enough, out came the baby and she started crying. (She?!) They laid her down between my legs and I tried to see, but she was all goopy and slimy. "I don't see a penis," I thought. My first words were purportedly, "He's a girl?!" I rolled to my back and they laid her on my stomach. I kept trying to pick her up to look for sure, but her cord was still attached and not very long. "Just wait," they said. Finally, I confirmed, she was a girl.
I can't say that I bonded instantly. It was so unreal. First, to have a child, and secondly, to have a girl. I just couldn't wrap my head around it. She opened her mouth and latched on as soon as I gave her a chance. She has been a champion nurser since the beginning. I delivered the placenta a few minutes later, and once the cord had stopped pulsating, David cut it. He was smitten right away. His protective Daddy instinct kicked right in and I heard him say, "I am here for you, Little One. I will always protect you and provide for you."
Soon we went and took a bath together to get clean. With me barely touching her, she laid on her back, floating in the water, completely in her element. I washed her clean and laid in water with her resting on my chest. "Yes," I thought, "I can do this girl thing!"
Rebekah Gene, you are my daughter, and I am your mommy forever.
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