It’s hard to believe last Monday at this time we had come home from my appointment with the midwife and were getting ready to go back to the hospital! With Christmas and visitors and new baby-ness, it feels like an eternity of time has passed.
So here is the story of David’s birth … which I have subtitled, “Like it or not, an unmedicated birth”!
I had been having contractions and general labor signs for days when I went to my midwife appointment on Monday morning, December 20th. My midwife, Leigh, had pretty much told me if I were having contractions when I came to see her, she wanted to admit me to the hospital and push labor along. I was determined to not be induced despite my insane desire to no longer be pregnant.
I had a few contractions while at the office but the real surprise was my blood pressure was 140/100. I have never had any issues with my BP, although it did creep up a little toward the end of my pregnancy with Libbie. I was really shocked. My body was no longer tolerating being pregnant very well. I asked Leigh if we could wait until Wednesday (my due date) and see if anything would happen. She was pretty insistent I go ahead and be admitted to the hospital that day (and the OB, she told me, was even more convinced).
We agreed that she would just break my water, not pump me with Pitocin, and we would see what happened, since I still desired to have an unmedicated birth. I was pretty sure if she gave me Pitocin the contractions would be bad enough that I would want an epidural.
So Mr. V and I came home, finished packing up for the hospital, and let him get something done for work that had gotten lost in the system. Thankfully my sister had arrived on Sunday night, so she was on Libbie duty! Mom, Mr. V, and I got back to the hospital (my midwife’s office is in the hospital) a little before 1 p.m.
A variety of nurses came in and got my information and took vials of my blood. (From an IV in my hand. Which hurt like heck. And still hurts. A lot.) They started an IV of fluids–once I made sure I really needed it with my midwife. I was determined to be IN CHARGE of my labor after feeling very out-of-control during my labor with Libbie. Leigh broke my water about 2 p.m. And we waited!
After my fluids were in, I could get up and down as I wanted. Mom and I wandered the halls a little, which helped the contractions to come more quickly. I sat on the birth ball some. I took a shower before things started getting hard so that I could feel a little refreshed. We watched How I Met Your Mother on the DVD player.
Leigh tried to convince me once or twice to let her start the Pitocin, but I was definitely having contractions and kept hoping they would become regular on their own. I was monitored for 15 minutes on the hour and the baby’s heart rate was good as long as I wasn’t on my back. Nothing was good when I was on my back!
Around 5 or so things started to feel really bad. Walking was the easiest for me, and I leaned against the wall or my mom when I had a contraction. Eventually Leigh came in to check me and when I found out I was still dilated the same (3.5 cm) I cried. Leigh tried to encourage me that there are other signs of progression, but I was really upset. The contractions were coming very hard.
I took another shower and even there could not relax through the contractions. They were coming very close together. My new nurse came in while I was in the shower and brought me juice. I told her I wanted an epidural–and I was serious. These contractions were so close together and so intense because my water was not intact. The thought that I was getting an epidural got me through the next 15 or 30 minutes.
And then my midwife came in to check me. I was around 5 cm, I think, and she told me the baby was going to be there before the anesthesiologist could get there.
I went from 3.5 cm to the baby being out in an hour and a half. She was right.
I mostly stayed on the birth ball and held on to my husband during these contractions. They were practically on top of each other. I know I told him I couldn’t do it and I wanted to go home. When I was in the bed they were completely unmanageable and I was pulling on my hair. At some point Leigh checked me and I was 7-8 cm. I got back on the birth ball. The next thing I know, I said, “I’m pushing!” Seriously, it couldn’t have been more than 5 or 10 minutes later.
They got me back on to the bed quickly and Leigh confirmed that I was crowning. The sweet nurse helped me breathe through some contractions before I started pushing. I pushed when I felt the need to push while Mom and Mr. V helped hold my legs back. The urge to push was almost constant, though.
I am pretty sure it was no more than 15 minutes later that David emerged at 8:47 p.m. Probably the most painful 15 minutes of my life. For some reason I thought the baby’s head numbed you a little during pushing. All I know is I wanted that baby out of my body as soon as possible. Pushing him hurt like fire. I was almost tilted backward and I told my mom that he wasn’t going to come out because I was working against gravity. I wish I had been a little more upright.
Finally his head emerged and the rest of him slithered out. It was sort of neat to be able to feel all of that happening. They let me see him and then took him over for measuring and suctioning and whatnot. I thought the pain was over … until Leigh informed me that baby had all but ripped apart my lady parts. It took her the better part of an hour to sew me up. Friends, having the epidural is worth it to not have to be sewn with just local anesthesia. Just so you know.
It turns out his head was 14cm and round as could be, which is why I tore so bad. Leigh said even if I had pushed more slowly it wouldn’t have helped. I had a second degree tear along with the other damage, but thankfully nothing that would have any long-term damage.
So. I wanted a natural birth, and I got it! And now, I can honestly say I am not sure I would do it again. My pain tolerance is not very high and I will never forget the insanity of pushing. I know it was unusually fast and with my water broken, probably hurt more than a “normal” birth. I can, of course, see the immense benefits compared to my other highly managed birth. A week removed, it doesn’t seem to matter that much one way or the other, because my sweet baby is here and healthy.
I am still definitely recovering from the tearing and some sciatica that popped up around 39 weeks and doesn’t want to go away. David is doing awesome, though … although he has no desire to sleep in his own bed (which is, right now, a Pack and Play in our room). He nurses great and is pretty content except when hungry. Or when we dare lay him down.
How could I say no to this sweet little face anyway?