Acia: Finnley's Natural Birth
Wednesday, February 03, 2010 5:55 PM
“I was so loud while pushing that the midwife actually told me to quiet down because screaming wouldn’t help...”
My birth story begins with my husband and me having sex three days before my due date -- we wanted to get things going. I guess it had some effect, because I lost my mucus plug the next morning, which was a Monday. I had an appointment with my midwife at 4:00 pm that day, and she agreed to give me an internal to see if I’d made any progress (I had only been 0.5 cms when she checked me the week before). She checked me and said I was 1cm dilated, not even enough to do a membrane sweep. I was disappointed, but prepared to go beyond my due date since this was my first baby, and my mom had delivered me two weeks late.
I went for a walk Monday night and at around 11:00, I started experiencing what I would soon realize were early labor contractions. I had been having some mild cramping throughout the day, but nothing that I would actually consider a real contraction. I thought it was probably just a side effect from having sex the night before. But soon it became clear that these were definitely different from anything I’d ever experienced -- the contractions felt like menstrual cramps that spread into my back and wrapped tightly around me, and seemed to come and go intermittently. The contractions kept going throughout Monday night, ranging from seven to 10 minutes apart, but they were tolerable. I tried to rest as much as possible, but lying down definitely did not help to ease the contractions at all. I didn’t sleep a wink that night.
Progress at last
The next day was more of the same, except now I was exhausted after being up all night with contractions. The contractions were about four to seven minutes apart throughout the day, and at this point I could definitely tell I was in the early stages of labor. They were growing increasingly uncomfortable. I spent most of the contractions bent over the couch or kneeling over the birthing ball, moaning and trying to get comfortable. I called my midwife and went in to get checked out around 3:00 pm (riding in the car was brutal and made contractions so much harder to cope with!). She checked and I was dilated 3 cm – finally, progress! She said it could be anytime, and to call her and go to the hospital when the contractions were “unbearable.”
We went home and within a couple hours I was in quite a bit of pain, despite trying many different positions, the birthing ball, and laboring in the bath. So we called the midwife and went in to the hospital. The drive was absolutely terrible, and I remember screaming at my husband to go faster. We checked in around 7:30 pm, and when the midwife looked I was dilated 5 cm. Apparently the baby was a bit posterior, which was causing me the back pain. As soon as we got to the room, I jumped right into the Jacuzzi tub. It helped a bit, especially for the back pain, but I was still having lots of painful contractions. After about two hours I got out and labored leaning over the bed, rocking my body back and forth, moaning and cursing and yelling at times.
I started to feel a lot of pressure, and at around 11:00 pm I found out I was at 9 cms! No wonder I had been feeling so much pressure. My water hadn’t broken yet, and although I really didn’t want any interventions, my midwife recommended that she break my water. I was so close and this would speed things along. I reluctantly agreed, and the water was clear, so she gave me the green light to start pushing a bit when I felt pressure.
Time to push!
Pushing was brutal and much harder than I ever thought it would be. By this point I hadn’t slept in 38 hours, had been having contractions for 24 hours, and was clearly experiencing “back labor.” I was physically and mentally exhausted. I didn’t have enough energy to hold my own legs back as I pushed, and the other midwives had to hold them for me. My husband was amazing and kept encouraging me, standing near my head as I pushed, helping me by holding my head forward so I could get my chin to my chest with each push. He constantly whispered sweet, supportive things into my ear, and I really don’t know how I would have made it without him.
There were times where I felt like I was going give up, like it was too much and too difficult, like there was no way this was going to happen. But I knew the more I hesitated the longer it would take, so I tried to give it my all during each contraction. I was so loud while pushing that the midwife actually told me to quiet down because screaming wouldn’t help. I was just totally taken over by the experience, and gave in to all my instincts. At one point, as the baby started to crown, I instinctively reached down and applied counter pressure myself to help the head emerge, something that I’m sure helped prevent any tearing.
When her head finally emerged it was the best feeling in the world, because the rest of her body just sort of slipped right out. So after just over an hour of pushing, at 12:53 am on Wednesday, August 26th (my due date!), Finnley finally emerged and entered the world crying, at 8 lbs 2 oz. She was placed immediately on my chest as we waited for the cord to stop pulsating. My husband ended up cutting the cord, even though he originally didn’t think he’d want to.
A scary ending
What happened next is something I’d rather forget, but I guess it’s an important part of the process. When I delivered the placenta, I felt a huge gush of fluid. I was having a post-partum hemorrhage. DH said it looked like a water fountain of blood streaming out of me. They quickly gave me a shot of pitocin, and when that didn’t help, they gave me another. They pulled the baby off my chest and handed her to DH. The whole time the midwife had her hands inside me and on my uterus trying to get it to contract to stop the bleeding. With no luck at that point, they hooked me up to an IV drip to get a continuous pitocin flow into my body, and called the doctor and nurses in for emergency support. The doctor got her hands inside me and continued to try to get the uterus to contract. They used a catheter to drain my bladder to assist in the contracting.
Back in control
Eventually all the interventions started kicking in and the blood flow began to slow. I was in and out of consciousness throughout this ordeal and didn’t really know what was going on, except that my husband looked terrified. He kept kissing me and telling me he loved me but he looked so alone and helpless standing there holding our brand new daughter. He is my strength, and to see him looking scared was probably the most frightening part of the entire experience. He told me afterwards that he thought he was going to lose me, and it breaks my heart that the experience was so scary for him.
Once everything was under control, my husband handed the baby back to me and we tried nursing. Finnley latched on right away with a crazy strong sucking reflex (and she’s been a champ ever since!). After a couple hours to recover a bit in the delivery room, we were transferred to our room and spent the early hours of the morning staring at the beautiful daughter we had created. My blood levels came back very low and anemic after losing so much blood (more than 1/4 of my total supply), so I had to start taking iron right away to get them back up. Other than that, the worst part of the ordeal was the swelling from all the fluids they pumped into me – my feet looked like Homer Simpson’s and my fingers were the size of sausages! I didn’t have any tearing, so recovery was relatively easy, aside from the lower energy levels caused by the anemia.
Now that I’ve had a month or so to reflect, the scary memories have started to fade, and I’m just left with a feeling of overwhelming love for my new daughter, excitement for what the future holds for our new family, and a sense of pride that I managed the delivery without medication. It really was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m so glad I experienced it. I feel like it was a rite of passage in some ways. Now that I’ve gone through it, I’m a stronger person and ready to enter this new stage of my life.
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