Thursday, May 2, 2013

Labor and birth

Taken on January 12th, one day past my due date.
It was Saturday morning at 4 am on January 19th. I got up for the millionth time to go to the bathroom. I was already one week and one day late. The previous day had been spent jumping up and down, eating spicy foods, and having my membranes stripped by my midwife at my appointment. I was uncomfortable, tired of not being able to reach my feet, and I was hardly sleeping anymore. I was so ready to be done with pregnancy. I got back in bed and felt a cramping feeling. It wasn't very strong, but I hoped it was the start of something.

If I didn't go into labor within the next few days, I was going to be induced. I absolutely did not want to get induced. I wanted a completely natural water birth. I did not want to risk having a bunch of interventions that would stop me from my natural child birth. Jon and I had discussed our options with our midwife and had chosen to induce on Monday if I did not go into labor before then. No matter what, I was going to have to be induced by the following Friday, and our Midwife was worried about the constant state of my high blood pressure.

By about 8 am, I was really starting to think that I was having contractions. They were a bit stronger, although not quite regular in time. I started using my handy dandy contraction counter app. It just so happened that today was the day of Jon's family Christmas with his extended family. It seems as though there is this theme with her wanting to make a presence while we are having holiday parties with Jon's extended family...

By noon, I was calling my midwife. She confirmed that, yes, I was most likely in labor. We called Jon's parents and told them that we would not likely make it to the family Christmas. We confirmed by 4 pm that we were definitely not going to make it to the family Christmas. The contractions in the evening were strong, but I thought maybe this would be as strong as they get-I could totally handle this. I was sooooo wrong. They do get stronger, a lot stronger. I found that this little yellow squishy ball that we had was great to squeeze during the contractions. I also tried laying down and listening to music and sitting on our big exercise ball.

At 10 pm, it was time to head to the hospital. My contractions were averaging at about 4.5 minutes. On the ride to the hospital, I started to cry. I don't know if Jon even knew about it, but the hormones were going mad-crazy at this point. I had no idea why I was crying, I just was.

When I was first checked at the hospital, I was already at 6 cm. I thought it would be smooth sailing from here. Heck-I was already 6 cm! Oh hey, I was wrong again...

At the hospital I continued to squeeze the squishy ball like crazy. I also found the exercise ball worked for a while. Something else that really seemed to help was smelling lavender oil. It was very calming. The hospital only had one room with a tub for water births, which was in use, so they had to drag in a portable birthing tub into my room.

The rest of this gets a little more blurry. Hours seemed like minutes and it was all mixed around. I seemed to be stuck at 7 cm, so my midwife broke my water to hopefully help me to progress to 10 cm. This was definitely the strangest feeling. It was like I was uncontrollably urinating all over the bed. This was also the point that my midwife discovered meconium after breaking my water. I was now unable to have a water birth. I was pretty bummed. I also felt a bit bad that the poor nurses had been working so hard to fill the tub that they now had to empty.

I tried many different things to make myself as comfortable as possible. I sat in the tub with the jets, I tried the exercise ball again, I was on hands and knees on the bed. The contractions were starting to come one on top of the other. I started to feel the urge to push. My midwife checked me again-only 8 cm. I had to fight the urge to push.

Here is something that you never really hear about childbirth-you sometimes vomit. Yup, I learned that one. I apparently was transitioning into the next phase...

At 9 cm, I really, really, really felt the urge to push. It was seriously to the point where I felt as though I could not control it. My midwife kept telling me over and over to "let Adalyn bear down." I felt like it was so impossible and had no idea how I was supposed even to do that. I just wanted to snap at her and say "No! You bear down! I am pushing!"

I was stuck at a little more than 9 cm. A part of my cervix was not folding over to help me progress all the way to 10 cm. It was agonizing. I so badly wanted to push, but could not. Finally, my midwife was able to push the part of the cervix over so that I could start to push. Pushing lasted about 20-30 minutes. I just wanted to be done with it so badly.

As a side note, I would like to talk about my amazing husband. He truly helped me so much during labor, and I absolutely could not have done it without him. He was there rubbing my back and telling me how proud of me he was or how I was doing such a great job. There was a point toward the end of the labor that I felt as if I could not continue without drugs. He was there to remind me that it was not what I wanted, and that I was strong enough to handle the pain. Seriously, I probably would have gotten the drugs had he not been there.

After 25 hours, at 5:34 am on Sunday, January 20th, Adalyn Rhea was born, weighing 7 lbs., 12 oz. and 20.5 inches long. It was over. I had done it. I had given birth to this beautiful baby girl, with absolutely no drugs or interventions.

Immediately, they had to whisk Adalyn off to have her airway cleared out because of the meconium. Within seconds, we hear her first beautiful cry. Looking back now, Jon says that hearing her cry for the first time was when things really became real for him. She was then placed in my arms. I could not believe she was actually here. All those long months of pregnancy and the intense labor was finally over, and in replacement of it all was this little girl.

One thing I did not notice while pushing was the tearing. Even to this day, the idea of tearing like that makes me shudder. But no, I did not feel a thing. Well, at least not until after the whole birthing process was over. I also really did not feel much when delivering the placenta. I had been told that the contractions would start over again. I honestly did not feel much. I was too focused on this little life that lay before me. 

My midwife asked me afterward how I felt about the birth. I told her then that I didn't know if I would have done it the same--without drugs--again. I thought about it more over the next few days in the hospital. I was definitely wrong. I wouldn't have changed a thing. I can honestly say that giving birth was absolutely the most empowering moment of my life. I went through so much pain, but knowing what my body did to bring a new life into the world was incredible.

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