Saturday, February 12, 2011

Birth story

I delivered in the hospital. I was induced by synthetic Oxytocin drip. I had continuous fetal monitoring. I had IV tubes coming off of one arm, and blood pressure cuff with tubes coming off of the other arm. I was delivered by a resident I had only first met hours before. And yet...

I had a good birth.

Going overdue sucks. I think I have done sufficient job of expressing that in previous posts. Everyone is waiting for you to do something you have no control over. People make comments that they think are funny. They are not funny. And every night you go to bed. Still pregnant.

You can't stand up without needing to go pee. You can't sleep more than a few hours at a time. You make no real plans because you will be in the hospital any day. But any day does not come, and methods of induction begin to be discussed.

We really wanted a natural birth. Our birth experience with Nik was traumatic, and we had been induced then. We did the IV, the fetal monitoring, the long labour, the epidural, the episiotomy... We wanted a different experience this time around. Labour at home for a while, then go to the hospital. Labour in the hospital whirlpool, or on hands and knees on my yoga mat on the floor. Pushing in that semi-upright position. No stirrups for me, thank you very much.

Sunday morning, we talked about it. Would we take the induction if they called to offer it Monday? Or would we wait longer? After much discussion, we decided to take it when it was offered. If we saved induction only as a very last resort, we were starting down a path of beyond-our-control birth before labour had even started. But if we chose induction now, we could own it. It would really be what we had decided to do, after considering all the pros and cons, and we could make peace with that.

The hospital surprised us by calling to offer us a spot in LDRP if we went in for induction on Sunday night. My heart started pounding. I hadn't expected the call until at least the next morning. I told them we would have to think on it, and I would call back. I called my sister, and my husband came upstairs. With her on speaker, we talked about what to do. We decided to do it. We had already decided to accept the induction, and this was a way to be really intentional about it. Summoning up a spirit of no hesitation, I called the hospital back. My mom would come and stay with my son. We were on our way.

We spent a while in triage when we got to the hospital. When they checked me, I was already nearly 5 cm dialated, and I was told I was "very stretchy". The OB-GYN from my obstetrical group came in to talk to us about induction options. She did not rush us, and let us ask many questions. I had done quite a bit of reading on induction methods, and armed with that knowledge, the consultation with the OB, and the support of my husband and sister, we chose to begin the IV drip with membranes intact.

We went down to our suite in LDRP and met our night nurse. She talked to us about our preferences for support during labour, and worked with me to choose a site for the IV. She worked in an unhurried way, with our cds from home playing in the background, and the lights low. She explained what she was doing with all of the equipment. I may have been in a hospital bed, with tubes coming off of my arms and belly, but I was at ease. The nurse, my sister and I chatted through the wee hours of the morning, while my husband dozed. We were all just waiting for contractions to begin.

They did begin, in earnest around 5 a.m. I woke up my husband, and away we went. The contractions became very intense, very quickly, and there was no rhythm to them at all. They were of varying lengths, as were the 'breaks', which basically consisted of a "if-you-touch-me-I will-vomit" feeling for a few seconds. I started to flip around, stretching in crazy directions as the contractions got more painful. The nurse was awesome. She never told me not to move, even when the monitors started to fall off. She just worked around me, for a while down on her knees holding the fetal heart monitor onto my lower belly with her hand.

I couldn't talk, but my self-talk was going a mile a minute. With closed eyes, I used all my self-control to focus on why I wanted this baby, how much I loved Nik and all the sweet things he does, how okay it was to stretch in weird ways... I imagined things moving open and down. Any contraction I had with fear or angry thoughts in my head was far, far worse. All the contractions were awful, but I could cope if I could keep control of my noisy head. Up, up, up in a contraction, stretch my head to the left, and then whoosh back to the right... Ow, oh, no, it's good, it is doing what it needs to do, stretch, open, move down, that girl's a comin...

Labour was fast, and before I knew it, it was too much for me to take. I started thinking, "How in the world will I ever get through this?" I couldn't believe I was in transition; labour had only just started! But then my sounds started to change, and the nurse wanted to check me. She could see I was moving into second stage, though I was only barely aware of the growing need to push. She wanted me up on the bed for an exam, and all I could think was, "Screw you. I am barely coping down here where I am." but I took that 2 second break with all the tension still in my tailbone, and willed myself into that bed and onto my back. Oh, I hated everyone in that moment.

She checked me, and said to me very loudly and clearly, "Lisa, you are 100%. Don't push. I will get the doctor, and your baby will be born." Go to hell, I thought. My body, my birth, I will push if I want to. I grabbed Andrew's arm, and held on for dear life, blowing, blowing, blowing, and doing little cheating pushes to relieve the pressure. The nurse ran into the hall and I heard her call, "I need a doctor in here!" My OB was with someone else, so the resident came in. She had been by briefly in triage to introduce herself.

In a flurry, the bed was changed into a birthing chair, and I started really pushing. Because I had the epidural with Nik, this was a totally new experience. I couldn't believe the pressure, or how hard I was able to push. When they told me, "Good, like that, do it again!" I knew what I had done, and could replicate it. I burst a million blood vessels in my face and neck. The OB squeezed warm water over my perineum and massaged the skin. No one rushed me, even though my labour slowed right down. I had the longest breaks during pushing, and the pillows behind my back felt so good.

I waited for the urge to push before pushing, and that meant I even skipped a few of the milder contractions. No one said anything. No one shouted, "Push!" They let me wait, let me feel it out, and just encouraged me to go harder, go just one more time before resting again. Baby moved down so fast, maybe just 30 minutes. During crowning, the OB was amazing. "Come on, Lisa, I know it hurts, but you have to get through it. Gentle push, again, gentle push, don't give up, you're doing it, one more, one more, gentle push, come on, one more..."

And then, the feeling changed. It felt like someone was pulling a very slippery octopus out of me, as the head passed, and I felt that mess of arms and legs leave my body. Alexa was born, and the hardest part was done. It was only 6:42 a.m.

I realized I had done it. With awesome support from everyone around me, I had pushed that little person out into the world on my own steam, without narcotics. And it was exhausting and awful and over. I did it. In the hospital, with a doctor and nurse who were strangers to me, under an induction I thought was still a day away, I had a good birth. And that is my birth story.


Queen Bee said...

Wow, Lisa!! i think that sounds like a great birth experience. i bet that it was healing after the traumatic birth of your first.

kudos to your nurse and the OB who encouraged you and did not pressure. if only more births had such attendants.

Susy S said...

That sounds like a GREAT birth! I'm so happy for you! I had long breaks between contractions when pushing too. I hear that's quite common and normal. I know I sure as heck needed them!

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