Birthing the Bean

{ Sunday, July 19, 2009 }
Monday morning we had our last midwife appointment. We had spent the weekend trying all the induction techniques we could think of (other than castor oil), but we just couldn't get anything started. The midwife checked me (3cm), swept my membranes (for the second time) and scheduled me for an induction on Wednesday. We talked about the castor oil and she said if I was going to take it, I should do it that day. I was nervous to take the stuff, so we decided to wait until Tuesday morning to try it since I had been nauseous all day and didn't want to make myself more sick.

I woke up just after midnight on Tuesday morning to go to the bathroom and by the time I got back in bed, I had my first painful contraction and then another one 5 minutes later. I timed contractions for 20 minutes, then woke up the boy to say, "I think I'm in labor, but you should go back to sleep." I drank some water and paced around downstairs to see if the contractions would keep coming. When it seemed like this was the real thing, I tried going back to bed, but it was too uncomfortable to lay down. I decided to labor in the living room trying a bunch of different things to get comfortable--labor ball, hands and knees, standing, etc. I was really tired and wanted to conserve energy, so I ended up spending most of the time propped up on the couch so I could rest between contractions but still be sitting up when they hit. The boy kept checking on me throughout the night to see how I was doing. I was nauseous and finally around 7 am, I threw up like I never have in my life. I can't even explain how violently I wretched except to say that when I looked in the mirror afterwards I burst into tears. Hundreds of blood vessels had broken in my face and I was literally covered with large red blotches. It was terrifying. By that point, I was done with laboring at home. My contractions were between 3-4 minutes apart and only 45 seconds long (we would have preferred them to be closer to a minute long), but I just wanted to go to the hospital. The boy called one of our midwives who offered to check me at their office.

The trip to the office was torture--I made the boy pull over every time a contraction hit because I couldn't handle the bumps while contracting. We finally made it to the midwive's office and learned I was 4-5 cms dilated. We were given the choice to head to the hospital, go back home, or walk around at the office for a bit. I just wanted to go to the hospital and get settled so I didn't have to move around anymore, so we went in. I had several contractions while walking into the hospital and had to keep stopping and leaning on something until it passed. A bunch of people offered us a wheelchair or asked if we needed help, but it was a point of pride for me to walk into labor and delivery myself (I can't tell you why this was, but its how I felt). We finally got there and got to our room, but had to wait a while to get checked in (and we were waiting for the midwife who would attend our birth to arrive). I wasn't sure what to do with myself, but ended up sitting cross legged on the floor and stayed that way during check in and the initial 20 minute fetal monitoring.

Finally, our midwife arrived, I was taken off the monitors and given the OK to get in the whirlpool. While I was in the tub, they gave me some IV fluids, since I had been vomiting. The tub really helped with the pain of contractions, but also worked to slow them down. At some point while I was in the tub, our doula arrived and shortly after I got the shivers. I had heard that shaking was normal after delivery, but didn't realize it would happen during labor as well. I was so glad the doula was there to reassure us about that because it was a little disconcerting to be shaking while in a warm bathtub! I was in the tub for over an hour and then had to get out again to spend some more time on the fetal monitors. Our nurse was great, but was insistent that I be flat on my back during the monitoring, which was the worst possible position for the pain. While I was in the position anyway, the midwife checked me and I was still at 5 cm. If sweetie and I had learned anything during all our classes and reading, it was that we shouldn't invest any energy it what those numbers were. It was drilled into us over and over that labor can stall at any dilation and can also progress quickly. I had decided to just ignore the numbers and focus on getting through the contractions. Still, I had been in labor for almost 12 hours and it had been almost 4 since I was first checked at 4-5 cms. The midwife suggested she break my water to try to get things moving. I always thought I would resist having my water broken because, once its done, you have a limited amount of time to deliver before they begin pushing for a c-section. I quickly agreed, though, because I realized that I would be worn out and unable to continue if I hadn't delivered in another 12 hours.

After my water was broken, contractions became more intense almost immediately. The midwife recommended I try taking a shower, but I couldn't get the water hot enough or the water pressure high enough to do much to alleviate the pain I was feeling in my back, so I got back in the tub. While laboring in the tub the second time, I became nauseous again and started really having a hard time handling contractions. This was the first time that I turned to the boy and said I couldn't do it anymore. Rather than making it through each contraction one at a time, it became about making it through a third of the contraction. They would start out OK and I would do a good job of relaxing through it, but at the height of each one my body would involuntarily tense in a way that felt like wretching. After the peak, I would regain control and be able to relax again. I told our doula that I thought I was pushing. I really wasn't sure because it wasn't as though I was making a choice to push and tensing my muscles--my body was just taking over and doing it without any help from me. The doula reassured me that I would feel like pushing when I felt more pressure down low, so I figured I was wrong about what was happening. After an hour or more in the tub, it was time to get out again and be hooked back up to the monitors and have my midwife check me. I was at 8 cms. My back pain became overwhelming, along with the nausea. I threw up again and remember being embarrassed at having done it in front of everyone, particularly the boy who was right next to me, but I quickly forgot about that. From that point on, I kept my eyes closed and turned completely inward. I was aware of what was going on around me, but I didn't feel a part of it at all. Looking back now, I know that I was in transition but at the time, I couldn't think about progressing. I could only focus on what was happening at that very second. It wasn't about having a baby, it was about surviving each new contraction. After this point, I also started saying no to everything anyone told me to do. The midwife told me the baby was trying to turn her head to make her way down and that I should get out of bed and on my feet, but I couldn't face the idea of moving. It wasn't until I overheard the midwife tell our nurse that I needed to get out of bed "if we have any hope of making this work" that I agreed to move (out of fear of a c-section).

Since my eyes were closed, everything that happened at this point just happened--voices came and went in my ears, pillows appeared, hands were on my back, but I wasn't always sure who was doing what. I was set up leaning over a counter and was told to pace around the room between contractions. I was really vocalizing with every contraction and tried to moan like I was being told to do, but ended up mostly yelling "oww" and "it hurts so much." Of course, there was also a lot of "no" and "I can't do this" thrown in anytime anyone told me to do anything. This was absolutely the worst point, as I labored through those last 2 cms. The contractions were so intense that I needed to lean over the counter for the first and last third of them and then stood up straight and pushed 2 or 3 times at the height of each. Someone told me not to push, but then I heard our midwife saying that I should go ahead and do whatever my body was telling me to do. I had no choice in the matter--there was no way I could not push. The boy was helping me walk around between contractions and when I felt another one coming, I would rush back to the counter so I could lean. Remember also that my water was broken and I was leaking fluid with each contraction. That is such a sanitized way of describing what was happening--the reality was much more gruesome than it sounds and I was again horrified by it.

While we were walking around, I had to open my eyes, of course, and I saw that everyone was rushing around getting things ready. The baby warmer was brought out and supplies were being piled up. I didn't understand why they were doing this--I still didn't believe the baby was coming any time soon. The midwife mercifully asked me to get back in the bed and checked me again. I was fully dilated and ready to push. Rather than being excited by this news, I complained. I didn't want to push, I really didn't want to do anything but tell everyone that I couldn't do this anymore. My legs were lifted for me and I'm pretty sure someone had to lift my hands and force me to hold my legs up. I began pushing because I was being told to. The midwife had me sort of roll over--I pushed for a few contractions on my back, some my side, in a squatting position, and then the other side. At one point, I believe the baby's heart rate declined because the nurse asked me to not push for one contraction and, as much as I didn't want to push, it was worse to not push. I complained about that too. After that one contraction, we were back to pushing and the midwife asked me what position I wanted to continue in. I could have squatted, which was what I had planned, but I was just too tired and too scared of more pain to move, so I continued pushing on my back. This may sound strange, but I was still in my own world and not thinking about the baby at all. The doula kept telling me the baby was coming and I'd think to myself, "No, she's not!" I guess part of it was that I was just trying to get through what was happening to me and part of it was that I didn't want to get my hopes up in case I ended up with a very long labor. So, when the midwife started talking about the color of the baby's hair, I told myself that the head can move down with each push and then move back up between contractions. A few minutes later, the midwife asked if I wanted to feel her head crowning. I felt her little head there, but for some reason it didn't register that she was crowning. I was waiting to feel the "ring of fire" that I'd heard about and I didn't think she could really be crowning if I hadn't felt it. A few minutes later, I felt incredible pressure and almost a bulging feeling and I thought maybe that had been her starting to crown. The midwife asked me to open my eyes and I really didn't want to (I may have even said no), but thankfully I did. I opened my eyes and that was a moment I will never forget. I had birthed the bean's head and shoulders and there was this baby right there, just looking around at everyone. I was so in my own world I had almost forgotten we were having a baby, but seeing her there brought me right back to reality and I couldn't remember a time when I wasn't thinking about her. I looked up and saw the boy, who was also watching the bean. There was so much emotion on both our faces. I later learned that the boy had caught her as she came out. The midwife then told me to reach down and pick her up, which I did and she came right onto my belly and just layed there and looked around. Unfortunately, they had to take her away immediately because there had been some meconium when my water was broken. They checked her out for a few minutes, which felt like an eternity, then she was back on my chest. I wasn't quite done whining, though, so I told the midwife at that point that I didn't want to birth the placenta--I was done! It ended up being no big deal and it was a lot less pressure without everyone yelling at me to push. During that time, we were told to keep the bean crying for a while until she pinked up, but once her color was good she latched on and ate for over an hour. In fact, she stayed up nursing most of that first night.

Everything turned out exactly the way we wanted, despite our concerns about being in the hospital. The only little thing I wish I had done differently is that I wish I had forced myself to suck it up and push in a squatting position. My tailbone was broken during delivery, which made getting in and out of bed extremely painful those first couple days and sitting to nurse for hours is torture. I wonder if it would have been different had I not pushed on my back. Still, its hard to complain. We ended up with the most beautiful little girl and were able to avoid the induction and have a natural birth.


jessie said...

You did it!!! You should be so proud of yourself. So glad that the birth was what you wanted (minus the broken tailbone). I kept saying I couldn't do it either but we did. And now, 2.5 months later, I totally want to do it again!

Anonymous said...

My jaw is on the floor after reading what you went through. I just can't imagine. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it was an incredible read. You are amazing. Congratulations again. said...

She is totally worth it.

I'm so incredibly happy for you guys! Thanks for letting us come meet her! :)

Strawberry said...

Thank you for sharing your birth story! So glad you were able to have a natural birth :)

Dani and Tonka said...

what a beautiful birth! I dont think I could have done it as awesome as you!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It was inspiring to read, and I'm so happy for you that you managed to have the birth that you wanted. You're amazing!

Val said...

Holy wow... what a story! You were amazing... and so glad that pain is over for ya.

We're looking forward to meeting the newest member of your family very soon!