Saturday, October 23

My Birth Story

I really just wanted to share my birth story. It's detailed, graphic, and TMI - so if you don't like the gory details, please don't read anything after this short summary sentence: Hoyt Donovan Martin was born on 10/21/2010 at 8:36 AM after four hours of labor and 18 minutes of pushing. He weighed 8lbs and 12 oz and was 21 inches long.

Long version:

It was one day past my due date, and I was not doing well emotionally. People kept telling me, "Have the baby on this day because it's ____." "Do ____, it helped induce my labor." And worst of all, "It's okay, I was LATE with my child." I would not have considered going ONE day past my due date to be such a terrible thing if other people didn't think so! The average gestational period for a first time mom is 41 weeks! But it didn't matter - I've never been a person blessed with patience, and I just wanted my baby. It felt like I was being inconvenient to other people's lives, jobs, circumstances, etc. And I hated that feeling!

Finally, I'd had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday (10/20) and, for the second week in a row, I was 3cm dilated and between 80-90% effaced. For the second week in a row, the doctor told me, "I don't think you'll be here much longer." He gave me a "gentle" membrane sweep, monitored my contractions and they were not very productive, so I was sent home and told to call if I didn't have him by the morning.

The rest of the day was spent with me in utter emotional horror, crying and trying again every known method of natural induction (except castor oil, which I'd been forbidden from since I tried unsuccessfully that Sunday and just ended up angry and with no contractions) and I just knew none of it would work.

Daniel and I went to bed that night with a special prayer - that it was in God's hands and to let things happened as He saw fit. Beforehand, we had prayed "please let us have the baby soon/today." We did not pray that, we just prayed that we would have the wisdom and the patience to deal with whatever God saw fit. If that meant considering some sort of medical induction for my emotional well-being, so be it. I went to bed that night knowing that God would give me the answers, one way or the other.

I woke up at around 3:30AM with an urge to use the bathroom. I kept getting in and out of bed, trying to go. I was irritated and sleepy and not happy. I had no cramps, no contractions, nothing but an urge to go to the bathroom. A little before 4:30, I was sitting on the toilet when I heard a distinct *pop* that sounded like a bone breaking. I stood up and fluids gushed out of me. I'd already had a "my water broke" scare the previous weekend, and it just ended with me feeling embarrassed because it amounted to nothing, so I thought, "ugh, not again!" and I thought I peed myself or had some wonderfully inconvenient discharge. I put on a little pantyliner just in case.

I laid back in bed and woke up Daniel to let him know I had had more fluid but that I wasn't getting my hopes up. Then I stood up and it kept coming. I had to change undergarments three times in five minutes, and I knew it was the real thing. Then the contractions started coming like a Ferrari - from 0 to 160 in 3 seconds! They were immediately extremely intense, 2 minutes apart - and I hopped in the shower real quick for some relief, and told Daniel to call the doctor and tell him we were on our way to the hospital and wanted a room with a jacuzzi.

He made me some eggs and toast so I'd have energy throughout labor. I scarfed them down with some water. We called our parents - my dad and his mom BOTH eagerly answered on the first ring - and they were on their way. I called my doula - my best friend Tiffany, a CNA who has attended two previous births. She didn't answer her phone, and I shrugged it off, intending to call her again at 7AM. After all, I was only in early labor, right?

We were out the door with our thankfully packed hospital bag at around 4:50AM and at the hospital by 5:08AM. I'll never forget wearing my cutest casual dress and waddling up to the door with fluid dripping down my legs and a huge wet spot on the front of my dress. The nurse saw me coming and just said, "Oh boy."

I immediately got out of that dress and into a hospital gown, and they started asking me questions. My contractions at this point had only 1 minute between them, and they were completely situated at the bottom of my uterus. I did not feel them in my back or at the front, but each one made me feel like something was ripping apart my cervix. I was checked, and again, I was still only a "tight" 3cm, fully effaced, and baby was at 0 station. It was horribly discouraging, and I thought, "well, I'll be here forever." Then, worse - I was told both rooms with a jacuzzi were taken. There was not even a shower in my room. That was the worst thing ever! I was disheartened immediately - I'd really looked forward to using water as a part of my natural birth.

I was hooked up to monitor my contractions and fetal heart rate, and the nurses were shocked and amazed at how intense the contractions were. I wasn't really able to verbalize a lot, and the worst part of everything was when they were asking me questions. I absolutely did not want to talk and I wanted people who weren't there actively helping me through labor to shut the heck up. She asked me my height, and I answered "22." Great!

Then, I threw up all over the floor - eggs and toast part 2. A sign of transition - but for all I knew, I was still at 3cm and would be for the rest of the day. My mom had just come in during this part, and she looked disgusted and horrified. I had Daniel send her out, because I could just feel her negative energy. Another nurse came in to put in the required heplock, but mentioned to me that if I allowed saline fluids, it would help with my uterine irritability. I agreed and didn't see the harm in extra fluids.

Then - a stroke of luck! One of the nurses, Susanne, knew my mother-in-law, and she actually requested me as a patient. She was wonderful to me the whole time, which was great, since my doula wasn't there yet. She could have easily been the only person in the room and I would have been fine. But that was the problem - I wasn't fine. While this was going on, I had a team of nurses coming in and out, trying to get this needle in my vein. Right now my wrists and hands are completely bruised from multiple injection sites. It was horrible. It took an hour and five people and seven injection attempts to get the dang needle in. My veins were crooked, deep, and small - plus I was dehydrated. And - because of the needle situation - I was unable to get out of bed and get on the birthing ball. By time they finally got it in, I didn't even want to. I was in so, so much pain. I had no breaks between contractions, and each one made my body shake.

I told Daniel at this point that I was going to get the epidural and lie to everyone and say I didn't get one. I told Susanne my pain was an 11 on the scale. She convinced me that a half dose of Nubain would help me focus on the progress of contractions, and that then I could decide if I wanted an epidural. She checked me again - I was 6 or 7 cm. This was at around 7:30. She was shocked, and then told me that I wouldn't even need to get an epidural because I was going so quickly. That finalized my decision - I told her I'd accept the Nubain. If I'd had access to one of the jacuzzi rooms, I would have just gone there instead. To me, it was a different way of getting to the same result. It wouldn't take away contractions, but it would help me relax and focus through them. I would have preferred a more natural route but I really wasn't that disappointed in myself - I avoided an induction and an epidural.

After the Nubain, Daniel and I completely forgot to call Tiffany. She would show up at the hospital at 9AM in shock. Anyway, the pain was still there, just as intense as before, but I didn't feel like they were ripping me apart, and I could actually visualize my progress. Then the anesthesiologist came in to find out if I was on any blood thinners, just in case I changed my mind or needed a C-section, and he looked like a Greek god. He said coyly, "I hear you won't be needing my services." I almost wanted to say yes just because he was so attractive, but I just managed a "We'll see." And before I knew it, I was at 9cm.

While I was going from 6cm to 9cm, the only thing I did to ease the pain was lie on my side, move my feet in time with the waves of the contraction, and squeeze Daniel's hand. I didn't like him to talk to me, distract me, or massage me like we practiced for nine months. I wanted to be in control of my own pain relief, I guess - but he really helped. The only things he would say are "Breathe..." and "Squeeze...." He had marks on his hands after he was through!

At 9cm, Susanne had me sit up so I would dilate. She told me to fight the urge to push, which as so many of you who've done this before know, is nearly impossible. I would lean forward with every contraction and Daniel would make me go back down. They ran to get the doctor, and I was fully dilated in ten minutes. Then they had me give a few practice pushes... it felt best to push in the "C" position with my shoulders and back raised up. It was around 8:15, and I told Daniel to go back out and get my mom so she could watch and help hold up my leg.

Pushing really, really sucked. As with everything else in my labor, it was just really intense. I was told that pushing would feel like a relief - but to me, it didn't. I was told about the ring of fire - and I assumed I'd only feel this through the last push. I didn't - I felt it with every single push. However, I knew there was only one way out, and I told myself, "Let's get it over with." Every push made me think I was ripping apart my entire pelvic floor, but I just thought, hey, it's too late to go back now. I pushed and pushed for eighteen minutes, and I did not scream or verbalize once. I just concentrated and thought about my son. The only time I raised my voice is when they asked if I wanted a mirror and I said "Absolutely not!"

When Hoyt Donovan M. came out at 8:36AM, I felt two things: an unbelievable feeling of relief, and an unreal gush of fluid. Mom later told me it scared her and she thought I was hemorrhaging. I announced to the room: "Oh my gosh, that feels SO much better." I delivered the placenta (and honestly... don't laugh... it kind of tickled.) and the doctor stitched a minor tear on the (last warning, tmi alert!) inner labia. Huh? How did I get a tear there?! They let me hold him and breastfeed him and then took him to weigh: a whopping 8lbs and 12oz! At my 38 week ultrasound growth scan, I was told he was 7lbs and 5oz, and I did not gain any weight in those two weeks! I'm glad that she'd gotten it wrong - I would have been more intimidated by pushing if I'd known he was going to be almost 9 lbs.

But I did have a lot of blood loss, and it was a bit scary. Because I'd had no pitocin or epidural to start with, they had to give me a smaller dose of pitocin to get things moving along. They pushed my uterus and fluid just kept gushing out - including several golf ball clots. I hear this is common with fast deliveries. Despite this, afterward, I felt so energetic and great. I wanted to talk to everyone and show off Donovan to the whole world. Visitors did not bother me at all. I was wide awake for the rest of the day.

Recovery has been pretty tough. The blood loss has made me feel pretty weak, and my iron counts were way low - so low, in fact, that I got an extra night's stay at the hospital. 48 hours instead of 24. Bleh. I got a prescription for heavy duty iron pills. It hurts to change positions with my pelvis, and I feel like my entire bottom is going to fall off at any time. Despite feeling so great emotionally, I feel pretty weak physically. All my visitors commented on how pale I looked.

Breastfeeding is going really great as well with the exception of painfully sore nipples. My supply, as of right this second, is fantastic. The latch is good, too. I haven't pumped yet, but I think I'm going to do really well.

Even though I love my doctors and the hospital stay was really good, I was told by Susanne that I would make a good candidate for a home birth in the future. I have about three years or more to make that decision, but I'm seriously considering it. I'd have to find a certified midwife in my area that I trust. I think that I'd really enjoy a water birth.

The most disappointing things about my labor were related to being in a hospital, even though I really enjoyed having constant access to medical professionals to talk about breastfeeding and recovery. I really wish there was a way to deliver at home and recover at a hospital! I was not at all disappointed in myself about the Nubain, and in fact, would be open to it again. I was disappointed that I didn't have time to try all my Bradley/hypno methods or get on the birthing ball, and I imagine that if I'd had a nice build-up starting with simple contractions and if my water hadn't broke first, I'd been able to use them. But I can't complain too much - my four hour labor was very lucky. My doctor said it is extremely rare for a first-time mom to deliver that quickly, without an epidural, without screaming my head off. Susanne said I was single-handedly the best delivery she'd had this year.

So after all the people who told me "there's no gold medal at the end" - fine! I award myself a silver medal instead. I'm still pretty proud of myself, especially considering how horrible my contractions were.

Also, FYI: someone's decision on circumcision is REALLY none of your business to comment on. I have wished bad thoughts on several relatives over the past few days.

Mostly though, I'm just in love, in a way I never thought possible. My whole world is now wrapped up in a blue-eyed, soft-skinned 8 pound package. He had an 8 and 9 on the Apgar scale from a touch of purple skin tone, and has a wee bit of facial bruising from such a fast delivery. He's the most gorgeous baby I've ever seen, and to me, he is completely perfect. All of it was worth it!


kate said...

So even though I plan on an elective C-section for myself when and if I have a baby, I just wanted to tell you that this was one of the most refreshingly straightforward, non-judgmental, and un-self-congratulatory birth stories I have EVER read! I think it's awesome that you let your plans adjust according to feelings and circumstances, and that you kept your eye on the prize: healthy mother and baby, not "the perfect birth." I get so annoyed when women act as if one type of birth is best for everyone--it isn't, and it isn't even right for one woman every time! I think it's awesome that you rolled with it and didn't let any hospital events overshadow a great result. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

WOW Jen! This was amazing and has given me something to think about when and if i ever decide to have kids. i am glad you did it your way and not other peoples way. I knew you could do it. I love you guys and am so happy you are my friends and family-although only through marriage. ;) i cant wait to talk to you and see the family. :) -Lauren

Anonymous said...

I love that our stories were so similar. I'm glad that you and Donovan were fine in the end and I love that you are assimilating well to motherhood. I know that you are going to do an amazing job and I am so proud of you. You always were the motherly Congratulations on your ADORABLE!!! bundle of joy! -Kristen Ramos

Jessica Reeves said...

Loved reading this! I'm all into the natural home birth (or at least in a private part of the hospital with a midwife), but I have been a little worried for whenever that day for me actually comes. By the way, there are midwives in Chattanooga and I've heard of a few in Cleveland as well so you're in luck if you end up doing that. I'm really happy for you two!

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