Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jenaleigh Kate's Birth Story

WARNING: This birth story may contain “too much information” for some of you. Only read if you don’t mind reading every little detail about my labor and deliver.

DISCLAIMER: It was a long labor. I don’t remember everything. Daniel and Stephanie may even have to correct me on a few of the details, but here’s how I recall it now …

Thursday Morning
Daniel and I left our house in Hardin and headed towards Mayfield for my 39 week appointment with Candy (our midwife). About 1 minute down the road I realized I hadn’t brought my Heparin (blood thinner) injection with us, so we had to turn around and go get back home to retrieve it. Little did I know that I wouldn’t need that small vile of medicine that day.

Thursday 9:20AM
During the appointment, Candy stripped my membranes in hopes of getting labor going. Everyone told me this wouldn't hurt, but I must be a little more sensitive than the average bear, because it was pretty painful! I had been having semi-regular contractions for the past few days that seemed to be leading nowhere. I was 2.5 cm dilated and about 45-50% effaced. At the end of the appointment (after discussing the induction that we were scheduled for on Monday) she measured my belly. It was measuring a little small. So, we went in for an ultrasound.

The ultrasound tech said that her estimated weight was 6 pounds 14 ounces – approx. where a 36 week 5 day old baby should be. We were 39 weeks 1 day. Needless to say this was worrisome.Especially since her last growth measurement showed 6 lbs 7 oz at 34 weeks (remember we were 39 weeks). So, Candy said for me to go ahead with my NST at the hospital and she’d chat with Dr. Christianson about what to do. I was so afraid Pitocin was going to be coming my way.

Thursday Noon
Candy came in and looked at my NST strip and we saw that I was having contractions about every 5 minutes! Stripping my membranes really worked! She told me that Dr. Christianson agreed that we had to have our baby THAT DAY due to her small size, lack of significant growth, and my Protein S Deficiency. Since I was contracting on my own, Candy ordered me to do some natural labor augmentation techniques(click here if you really want to know...) to keep the contractions going so we could avoid Pitocin. At this time we called everyone and let them know what was happening… we were going to have a baby! Woohoo!

Thursday 1:30-6:00 PM
I quickly learned that Ina May Gaskin was right about everything. EVERYTHING. In her book, “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” she discussed how our minds and bodies are connected and that labor can slow down or stop when “intruders” come into the room. My first “intruder” was a WELCOME one! Our doula Stephanie came in and I guess I was nervous, but my contractions stopped for about half an hour. Our second set of “intruders” came in to say, "Hi!"– again, WELCOME ones – my parents. My contractions stopped again!

The only thing that could bring those contractions back was the aforementioned natural augmentation (getting curious as to what it was, click here, but be prepared for TMI). My contractions were jump started in a major way.

Candy came back in around 4:30 or 5 to check me. I was about 4 and half centimeters to 5. I had only progressed 2 cms in 5 hours. But Candy was content to let me labor on without medical intervention. I was finally allowed off the stupid monitor and up for a walk! Walking really helped to keep the contractions coming strong. During this time I tried visualization of my cervix opening. I don’t think it worked, but it provided me with a few laughs… I told Daniel about how I was imagining my cervix as a flower opening and he proceeded to create a story about a flower who opened up in the sunshine. He even acted it out! Yep, we were having a little too much fun!

7:00PM -1:00AM
Contractions were coming nice and regular, I was even beginning to have to concentrate to get through them easier. However, it was time to be put on the monitor for 20 minutes, meaning I needed to lie in the bed. The contractions continued while I was on the monitor; but, I noticed the nurse was silent when she came in to look at my strip. She returned a few minutes later and said that I needed to stay on the monitor because she saw delayed decelerations, which was a sign that baby wasn’t getting enough oxygen right after a contraction. Once she told me this, I immediately stopped contracting. Once again – the mind/body connection is an amazing thing. I know I was freaked out that baby could be in danger because of my contractions, so my contractions ceased. After about an hour of nothing, Stephanie encouraged me to try to relax and try more augmentation (click here). The contractions started up again and I concentrated on taking DEEP breaths during them to make sure baby was getting enough oxygen and her heartbeat didn’t decrease when it wasn’t supposed to! During this time the monitor was not picking up my contractions, so the nurse was in and out fighting to move it around to the correct spot. This took forever and was quite distracting.

At about 11:30, the nurse said Candy had told her to check me for progress. Unfortunately, the nurse must not have been too skilled at checking for dilation, because it was P-A-I-N-F-U-L. I yelped and cried! Unfortunately, I had progressed very little – only to about a 5 and a half. However, I really wasn’t surprised, because of all the interruptions. I so wish that I could have labored at home for awhile! I was getting tired and scared that I’d be getting Pitocin. Afterall, it had been almost 12 hours since I arrived in the hospital.
I continued to have intermittent contractions (did I mention I was still hooked up to the monitor? No moving around for me!), but nothing strong and consistent. Stephanie was a huge advocate for trying to get me to stand up or use the birthing ball. But, each time I moved, the monitor would stop picking up contractions and the nurse would spend 10 minutes (no joke) trying to adjust it. This was the most frustrating part of the whole experience as it the constant adjustments continued for hours!

At around 1:00 Candy entered the room ; I told her I wanted her to break my water. I was about 6 cm.
Having my water broken didn’t hurt (I was so afraid it would) and there was no meconium (yay!). There was the initial gush and then when I stood up another gush. It was such a weird feeling to having liquids pouring out of you that you can’t control!

1:15 AM
Daniel providing his support for me during "transition".
I love him so much!
This marked the beginning of transition for me. The contractions were so painful. I moved onto all fours at the beginning of this period and it definitely provided some relief. Stephanie coached me to make low groans through these intense times. They grew longer and longer, with some reaching 2 minutes. I finally said I need to lay down. I was SO exhausted! Daniel joined in during this time to hold my hand and encourage me along with a sweet touch. I remember saying 2 or 3 times that I just couldn’t do it anymore. All I wanted to do was fall asleep and have some relief. But, thankfully, Stephanie was there to tell me that I was so close. I remember asking her “what if I’m not?” But, she told me that I was -- that I was in transition and that it wouldn’t last much longer. Having her tell me this was such a great comfort and motivator. I was able to focus on each contraction as it came hoping that each one would bring me closer to the end.

I was in such pain. However, guess what? The monitors weren’t picking up any contractions, so the nurses were in there the WHOLE time I was in transition moving around the sensors, pressing on my uterus. I must confess, I have never fought back the urge to lash out at someone as much as I had to then – I was so tired of them messing with me! They continued to try to get my contractions to appear on the monitor right up until I was pushing.

There were three contractions that I thought I would never make it through. However, I prayed during them. I prayed not only for relief but a prayer of thanksgiving. God was getting me one step closer to holding my little girl in my arms. I was thankful for the pain.

3:00 AM
Finally I told them that I “felt like I needed to do something”. They asked me, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Maybe I need to push or something … or go to the bathroom.” I didn’t get up; but, had a few more contractions then started to say over and over again, “I need to push. I think I need to push.” Nothing seemed to happen then. I remember Stephanie said to the nurses, “Did you hear her? I think she may be ready?!” Finally, they believed me and the hustle and bustle began. The nurse who had so brutally checked me before gloved up for another check. I started to wimper and said, “I don’t want to be check again.” Stephanie said, “YES YOU DO!” So, the nurse checked me and I was fully dilated with baby ready to come out. The trays were rolled in. The warmer brought out.

But, it felt like forever before Candy got there (probably only 5-6 contractions) and I kept saying, “I need to push.” The nurses said, “Just wait until Candy gets here”; but, Stephanie leaned down and said, “Don’t wait. Go ahead and push.” It felt great to start pushing. I knew I wasn’t moving much with the little pushes before Candy got there, but it was still a relief.

Once she was ready, the real fun began. My contractions had shortened, and were only lasting 30-45 seconds making it difficult to get too many pushes in. I pushed without much coaching (per the instructions on my birth plan) for maybe 15 minutes. I asked Candy if we were getting closer and she responded with something like, “not really”. So, I finally told her to coach me. I was just so tired and ready to have my baby! Daniel was such a huge help during this time. I don’t remember his exact words, but several times he leaned over and whispered a “game plan” to me. He told me that I was going to get three pushes in and they were going to be productive. He also helped me with my breathing, which later on the nurses commented on… apparently, most people don’t stop to inhale, which makes the pushing, grunting, and exhaling a tad difficult, I’d say. After ever push, I’d stop and take a huge lung full of air (Daniel said he told me to pretend like I was about to play my clarinet; however, I don’t remember this comment) which made the pushing a lot easier. Through the coaching and pushing, I finally felt her head crowning. I was expecting extreme burning (the so-called ring of fire), but it was bearable. They asked me if I wanted to touch her head, but all I wanted to do was focus on pushing. So, that’s what I did!

Seconds after delivery
I felt her head come out and then the rest of her body wiggle out. It was such an amazing, euphoric feeling. Did I mention I did this without any pain meds?! I have no idea how anyone could have control over their pushing with an epidural. Obviously, it’s done all the time, but the feeling of pushing and having my daughter come out of me was one I’ll never forget. It was such a rush.

They immediately placed the flailing baby on my chest and she started crying – the most wonderful sound to a mother’s ears ever. She weighed a petite 7 pounds 1 ounce. I got to keep her there for a minute before they took her and noticed she had swallowed an excessive amount of fluids. They asked for my permission to take her to the nursery to suction it all out. Daniel went along with them. While they were gone, I expelled my placenta (what a weird feeling) and Candy started the stitching process. I had two tears. Not fun at all. I kept involuntarily fighting Candy. She’d start to stitch and my bottom would rise up trying to escape! I felt tons of pressure and a little pain as she sewed me up. After a few minutes, one of the nurses came back in and said that she scored a 8 and 9 on her Apgars and that they had her in the warmer. Candy (ever the advocate for my birthplan) retorted, “Why don’t we bring baby to mom. She can keep her just as warm as the warmer.” Jenaleigh came back in (in her daddy’s arms!) and was placed on my bare chest. But, unfortunately the stitching was so uncomfy for me took such a long time that I didn’t get to breastfeed until the end of the first hour.

I was so ecstatic, yet somewhat scared and bewildered by this infant that I had in my arms – not to mention exhausted!

After my stitches were set, we got Jenaleigh to latch on and breastfeed for a few minutes. I have to admit, I found it quite painful at first and wasn’t sure how I could do it much longer … little did I know I’d be here over one week later on a strict schedule of breastfeeding every 2 hours (more on that later)!

Then the bleeding came. No one told me about the immense about of bleeding. I thought it’d be similar to a period, but it was much much more. I was worried due to my blood clotting disorder, afraid that the blood thinner was having an effect, but they assured me it was normal! I continued to worry about the bleeding for the first few hours of my daughter’s life. I wish I hadn’t worried, but I had visions of hemmoraging, leaving this beautiful girl and her daddy without a mommy. Finally the bleeding let up and the real bonding began. I was so in love. (Still am.) What an amazing adventure that led up to having my baby girl in my arms. She's so wonderful and I can't imagine life without her!

Reflecting on my birth story, I realize that a few things didn’t go as planned. For example, I really wanted to labor at home for awhile; but, I was in the hospital the whole time. I also wanted to be free to move about, but had to be hooked up to the monitor the majority of the time. Having two tears were not in the plan either! Next time, I think I will be more reluctant to be coached by the midwife during the pushing, as the forceful pushing was the probable cause of one of the tears. But despite the hiccups, I am SO thankful that I was able to have my unmedicated natural vaginal birth and to have my baby girl – healthy and perfect.

Throughout my whole pregnancy I yearned for an unmedicated labor. I armed myself with knowledge. I cast out fear. If you’re pregnant, I urge you to realize that the pain is fleeting and that it is such an amazing experience to be able to feel every contraction and to control every push and to experience the sensation of your child coming out of you. The pain is not as bad if you don’t want it to be! Our society has created such a hype about the terror of childbirth, but it is really an amazing experience.

Also, if you want a natural unmedicated labor, you really need a midwife and a doula. Daniel and I both are extremely grateful for Stephanie. Daniel cannot stop singing her praises. He, especially, was so glad that she was there to tell us what was normal – to guide us through a time of unknown. She was able to reassure me during transition. If it had not been for her telling me that it would be over soon, I may have asked for pain medications. But, because I trusted her, I persevered without them. Thank you so much, Stephanie! Candy was wonderful as well. A doctor would certainly have administered Pitocin; but, she allowed me to labor on my own, trusting that my body would do the work it was meant to do.

GiGi (my mom) holding Jenaleigh for the first time.
Some of you may be wondering where my mom was during the labor. I had decided early on that I just wanted it to be Daniel and our doula. However, mom did stop in to say hi and even walked with us some outside. I'm so thankful that she went along with our plans and was always supportive of my wishes. Even though she may have stayed apart from us during most of the labor, she is DEFINITELY involved right now. I'll probably post more on this later, but it would have been nearly impossible to get through our first week with Jenaleigh home without Mom. Before Jenaleigh was born, I thought for sure that we could do it by ourselves and would need little help at first. But, wow! Was I wrong! Mom stayed with us for the first few days and nights and was able to let me catch up on a little sleep, cleaned some, cooked, and most importantly provided me with support when the breastfeeding wasn't going smoothly (I promise, more on that later). I am SO thankful to have had her here with us.

Daddy and "Critter"
My husband was the final, most important piece of the support puzzle. Daniel has been with me every step of the way throughout this pregnancy – such a rock. He continued to be so throughout labor. His quiet presence offering a hand to squeeze and a correctly placed encouraging word was the best gift he could have given me.  He supported me during labor exactly how I needed. I’m so blessed to have him as a husband and the father of my beautiful baby girl.

Ready to go home and start our adventure!
I hope you’ll continue to follow my blog as I’ll begin to bring you frequent updates on life with a newborn. We’ve already had some interesting challenges… stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. GREAT birth story!! I adore birth stories and yours was not a disappointment. Congratulations on your sweet little one! :)