brendaemily: Wyatt's Natural Birth
Monday, February 14, 2011 12:07 PM
"Grrrr, be a mama bear and get this baby out!" she said. "Get mad that the baby's not here yet! Push with all your might!" So I did!
Today could be the day!
Having worked the day before, I woke up at 9 a.m. on the first day of my maternity leave and immediately knew that something was up. My husband turned toward me and saw the strange look on my face; I told him I thought my water had broken and got up to check. Sure enough, there was a definite trickle, and so I knew that no matter what, today would be the day!
I showered, then began to make sure our hospital suitcase was properly packed. In a perfect world, I would have had a homebirth, but our insurance wouldn’t cover either that or a free-standing birthing center, and we were not in the position to pay out-of-pocket. So, we had settled on a hospital with a birthing center and a group of midwives always on-call, though you never knew which one you’d get when you arrived in labor. We took a fairly intensive natural childbirthing class, I was working with a doula and I hoped for a water birth. I trusted my body and wasn’t frightened of the idea of pain or the birth, but I was scared of the hospital and the medical tendency to “take over.” But, we did everything we could, and hoped for the best!
We’d thought we may have a few days to get things ready, as my due date was four days away and this was my first baby, so we didn’t even have the car seat installed. My husband wasn’t satisfied that he’d got it in correctly, so he made an “emergency” visit to the county health department, where they ensured that the seat was installed properly. Meanwhile, I made a strong batch of red-raspberry-leaf-and-nettle tea, tried to eat some toast with peanut butter, and then took one last walk through the woods in the back of our property. As I walked, I inhaled deeply, noticing all the beauty of the spring and trying to embed these calming images of nature in my mind for the day ahead.
I called the midwives and let them know what was going on. They wanted me to come in for a non-stress test, which discouraged me because I’d wanted to labor at home as long as possible, and because I worried they’d eventually induce my labor. It was almost noon and I wasn’t really feeling any contractions yet. After my husband returned, we waited around a bit longer, then packed up the car for the hour-long drive to the hospital.
Taking our sweet time
However, we dilly-dallied along the way. First, we had to stop by my brother-in-law’s to drop off our two dogs. By the time we stopped, my contractions were starting to make themselves known. We then stopped to pick up sandwiches and smoothies, and I had a contraction in the bathroom that let me know things were getting serious. We’d had a“Hypnobabies” CD on the car, but when we got back in, I had to turn it off because it was annoying me so much! So much for a calm, quiet birthing! However, we were relaxed and having fun, though completely awed that we would be parents soon!
Finally, we arrived at the hospital, got our stuff and stowed the car. I checked in with triage, and surprisingly, in the few minutes between checking in and when they called me, I started to lose it and go to “birthing land.” I’d always thought checking in to triage would slow down my labor. “Why are they taking so long?!?” I struggled out between contractions. My husband gave me a strange look; he'd later tell me that it'd only been about five minutes!
Starting to feel panicky
Things got uncomfortable for a bit when they admitted me to the triage room, strapped me down to get a reading of all the vitals, and left. I was having painful contractions and felt trapped and panicky; I clawed off all the devices they’d attached to me. I needed to move! Although one midwife said they had enough information, a pushy nurse kept trying to hook me back up. Thanks to my husband, she finally left us alone. I asked the midwife to "check me," and the outcome was, no non-stress test, move right to the “birthing suite.” I was 5 cm dilated already!
Though I was a little disappointed that no rooms with birthing tubs were available, I was mostly just fixated upon getting through each contraction. I was GBS positive, so I had to have an IV port; they gave me a glove to keep this dry and I headed for the shower, pausing briefly to strike a Michael Jackson pose with the one glove -- don’t ask me how or why that seemed like the thing to do!
Our careful plans out the window!
The warm, falling water was more of a distraction from the pain than a pain-reliever. I was moaning very loudly through each contraction. My doula encouraged me repeatedly to make lower, deeper noises, but that’s just not what felt good, so my loud cries persisted. (In retrospect, I feel bad if I scared other moms-to-be on the floor!) I had a beautiful carefully-crafted mantra, I'd listened to and tried to follow Hypnobabies, my thoughtful husband had transplanted a flower to a pot so I could focus on it in the hospital room, I'd meditated and envisioned and breathed ... but whatever! It all went right out the window. I was getting through this with sheer brute force! The contractions felt much like I’d expected them to, but more all-consuming than I’d imagined.
Eventually, my doula recommended I change my scene up in order to keep things moving. I left the shower and was helped into dry clothes, as I couldn’t do much by myself in the midst of the pain (and as an official resident of birth-land). I started to get very, very nauseous, and that was perhaps the worst part of the whole experience. I never threw up, but I constantly felt like I was going to.
I tried leaning over the bed, squatting on the birthing ball and leaning on my husband. Nothing helped to dull the pain in my back and abdomen. The doula kept suggesting new positions to try, and I finally shot back, “Stop telling me what to do!” I must have been in transition then, because I was just pissed off and scared and feeling like I wasn’t going to get through all this.
Although I’d originally requested a minimum of internal exams, I wanted to know how things were going. The midwife checked, and I was at 10 cm! She told me I could push at any time.
I got situated on the bed, and I surprised myself by laboring on my back in the bed for a long time. I was distracted from the pain by my sweet doula, who kept exclaiming about how beautiful and in control I looked, by my husband's reassurances, and by my mom's encouragements. Yet each contraction was really devastating me; I kept asking if I could do anything differently or better because I wanted to get the show on the road!
Working at it
They told me to push with each contraction, but this is the point that I was most unprepared for. I’d read so many birth stories in which the mom was so relieved to finally be able to push, and in which it was as if the body “just took over.” Well, mine didn’t; pushing did not come naturally to me. If I just “let go,” there was no urge to push at all. So, I had to work at it. I’d have a huge contraction, try to push, and nothing would happen. This went on for hours. I was completely exhausted; the thought drifted through my head that if I just gave up and let the hospital staff "take over," I wouldn’t have to work like this anymore. However, I think this was just me blowing off mental steam; I never actually asked for or wanted any interventions or pain medication.
I kept asking what I should be doing, if I was doing anything wrong, and I was second-guessing myself. My husband and mom were wonderful during this time. My husband kept reminding me of all the preparations I'd made, the yoga and hiking I'd kept up throughout my pregnancy, my healthy diet and the natural supplements I'd taken, all in preparation of this moment. And my mother was a tireless cheerleader. Even while I was drifting in a haze between the body-and-mind-exploding contractions, her "you can do it!" penetrated to my core.
Still, the baby wasn’t coming down. I’ll admit that I wasn’t pushing to my fullest ability sometimes; in my addled brain, I felt like I was “hiding” from the pain by not pushing my hardest. They helped me flip on to all fours and I tried things that way. Finally, the midwife inserted two fingers to show me “where” to push. This helped tremendously! I understood better what to do, and my pushes began to be more productive. Yet at this point, I was almost completely used up. I wanted the midwife to “show me” what to do with each contraction then, as I didn't want to "waste" one.
The baby’s head started to make its appearance on a push, but would then promptly disappear. My mom was bubbling with joy and my husband kept saying with amazement “It’s here, it’s almost here!” but still the baby’s head played hide-and-seek. I don’t know how long that went on for, but it felt like forever. I was holding my breath, gritting my teeth and straining to push through each contraction. The midwife said she wouldn’t usually recommend that, but it’s all that seemed to work. My mother later told me that the forceps were all laid out and ready to go, but the midwife wasn't giving up. "Grrrr, be a mama bear and get this baby out!" she said. "Get mad that the baby's not here yet! Push with all your might!" So I did!
And then, after three very long hours of pushing, at 11:25 p.m. I finally felt an unearthly stretching, the baby slipped out, and my husband caught our little boy. I was so amazingly relieved and indescribably happy! Our baby had a remarkable cone-head and was covered in meconium, though, and the hospital staff members were very concerned: they cut the cord almost immediately rather than allowing it to pulse as we’d wanted. They whisked him a few feet away and began to try to clear his airways feverishly, although he was screaming just fine, so I didn't see what all the fuss was about. “Bring me my baby!” I said again and again, until my husband just stepped in and picked him up and brought him to me.
I then got to hold my son while the team continued to try and suck out his airways. I was stroking his soft, smooth skin and holding him close. I put him to my breast, but he didn’t have much interest in nursing, he just looked stunned.
When they measured him at 22.5 inches, the nurse said he was the longest baby she’d ever seen, but in reality, much of his length was his cone-head! He was 8 pounds 10 ounces, and utterly perfect. We spent another sleepless 36 hours in the hospital (due to the GBS) before we finally brought our boy home. I am so thankful that I was able to have a natural birth in a hospital setting. I sincerely believe I would’ve had to deal with interventions if we hadn’t had a midwife. But in the end, I’m most thankful for my healthy, wonderful boy. He’s the best part of my life.
> Want to share your birth story? Email it now to Bump Eileen at email@example.com.