Sunday, February 20, 2011

L’s Birth Story - Part 1

I had a very uneventful pregnancy with L. I was hospitalized only once. At 28 weeks, I had a bad flu and was dehydrated which was causing contractions. This was scary as it was the same timing (28 weeks) that I’d gone into preterm labour with A.  I called hubby to come home from school and he took me to the closest hospital. My midwife doesn’t have privileges there, but they did check me to see if I was dilating, which I wasn’t. Phew. So, since we knew we had time, we went over to the hospital that my midwife does have privileges at. After 2 bags of fluid in an IV and some Tylenol, the contractions stopped. She said that she could have done a fetal fibronectin test that would tell us if the baby was going to try to come in the next 2 weeks but it requires a total sterile environment and since the first hospital had checked me, she couldn’t do the test. Oh well. I went home and took Tylenol and gravol and slept well and was much better the next day.

I had Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), combined with sciatica, from about 6 or 7 months on. I bought a pregnancy support belt and was able to walk with it on.  I also went to a chiropractor regularly throughout my pregnancy, hoping to avoid the back labour of last time.

I was very excited to be seeing midwives for my prenatal care rather than my family doctor. This was for several reasons.
1. My midwives would spend 45-60 minutes per appointment with me. They had no problem just chatting with me about how the pregnancy was going and making suggestions here and there. My appointments with my family doctor during my first pregnancy averaged 5-10 minutes. I always felt she was rushed (she was) as she had many clients. I often had to stop her at the door as she was headed out in order to ask her questions.
2. I could have a homebirth! I was SO excited about this opportunity. The midwives discussed my husband's concerns and my mom even came with to one appointment to discuss it with them and left fully supportive of it. I didn't have many concerns because of all of the research I'd done. I'll discuss why I was so excited about homebirth in another post.
3. I wanted a more physiologically normal birth. No interventions if possible, no drugs, etc. I felt that getting prenatal care from midwives was the best way to achieve this goal.

My estimated due date was July 3rd, which is my father-in-law’s birthday. We thought that was cool – July 1st would be Canada Day, July 3rd would be his birthday, and July 4th was... well, the 4th of July lol. L didn’t pick any of those birthdates though! I think he wanted his own day :)

36 weeks

I woke up on Friday, June 26, 2009 at 4:14 am with contractions 3-5 minutes apart and 1.5-2 minutes long. They were very strong and took my full concentration to cope. I tried to go back to sleep but it was not going to happen. I sat on my exercise ball for awhile.

I called for Hubby at 5:20 to come and help me. He thought my moaning was A. He cleaned the house quickly, timed a few contractions, and questioned whether it was true labour – I assured him that it was and begged him to call the midwife IMMEDIATELY.

I had all of the supplies gathered for the birth, but nothing was set up and Hubby didn’t know where anything was. I’d expected labour to start slow and ramp up and that I’d have plenty of time to set things up. I actually planned to bake the baby a birthday cake while in labour in order to distract myself and have something to do. Instead, I was immobilized. Hubby did a good job setting up despite not knowing where anything was or where it was supposed to go.

About an hour later, he tried to figure out how to page Wendy Wong, my primary midwife. He finally just handed me the phone and I called her. She was off call so I paged Tracy Franklin, my secondary midwife.  When she called back, I was on the toilet so Hubby answers. She was just finishing up at a birth – baby was already born – so she paged another midwife to come to me. The toilet was making the contractions worse – same as with A’s labour. Hubby suggested that I take a bath. I decided to shower instead and quickly changed my mind and filled up the tub - go ahead hubby, say "I told you so" :). The water helped somewhat – more as a distraction between contractions than anything else. Contractions spaced out a small amount, which I was thankful for.

Tracy arrived at 7:10. The midwife she’d paged had happened to walk into the hospital for a meeting so Tracy got her to finish up at that birth so she could come to me. I was VERY happy to see her. I’d been having visions of birthing my baby myself in the tub, the labour was that intense. She checked me and I was 6, maybe 7, cm. Hubby called my mom, doula Barb, and sister-in-law Becca to come. Noone answered at Josh & Becca’s house.

I was coping fairly well through the very intense contractions – moaning and singing. I couldn’t wait for someone else to arrive so that I was not alone as Hubby and Tracy were setting up for the birth. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what to do, just someone to be there with me. “Hold the space” as we learned in my doula class.

Shortly after Tracy arrived, my mom and younger brother Rich showed up. Rich took A to Josh & Becca’s house. I had originally wished that he could be there, but I was relieved that he was gone as I was in so much pain, more than I ever imagined I could be in, and I didn’t want to scare him. He’s not one to sit quietly and observe what’s going on. He asks a million questions and tries to help and asks me for things and I just couldn’t deal with that in the moment.

I got out of the tub as the water was getting cold and sitting on the hard tub bottom was not helping (throwing folded towel into the tub would have helped to cushion my bottom – I’ll remember this for next time). I leaned on my mom for awhile and we swayed through the contractions.

I don’t remember when the other midwife, Carla, arrived.

Barb arrived around 7:30. Becca had finally been reached and was on her way. Contractions were getting more intense and the pressure was constant even between contractions. After ½ hour or so, I sat on the birth ball for awhile with Barb behind me on the couch and Hubby in front of me on a chair.

Clockwise from left: Becca (SIL), Hubby, me, Barb (Doula)
Barb rubbed my back. I was surprised and disappointed that the double hip press, which had been SO helpful during A’s birth, was painful during this one. So Barb just brushed my back lightly with her fingertips, which didn’t really help with the pain but it felt nice so I guess it was a good distraction at least. Becca arrived around 8:00.

At some point I turned around, kneeling on the floor and leaning forward over the birth ball. This felt a lot better, some of the incredibly intense pressure is relieved. This is the only position that I found during my entire labour and birth that I was remotely comfortable in. While in this position, I threw up. One of my midwives said “That’s usually good for 1-2 cm!” which was encouraging to hear.

Becca, me, Barb
Barb had to remind me to go to the bathroom to pee. I didn’t want to move and didn’t want to sit on that uncomfortable toilet, but with her encouragement, I did. When I got back, I went on the ball again then Barb suggested that I change position since I’d been on the ball for awhile.

I attempted the birthing stool and didn’t like it at all (too much like sitting on the toilet – it put pressure on the wrong places and made me more uncomfortable). The contractions were really getting away from me. I was getting very discouraged and begged to transfer to the hospital for an epidural.

Becca, me, Barb
Tracy checked me and said I was 7-8 cm. (Barb told me long after the birth that when Tracy checked me, I’d gone backwards 1 cm and she recommended the position change, I may have regressed because my shoulders were a little lower than my hips while I was leaned over the ball so the baby’s head wasn’t well applied to the cervix. I am VERY grateful that I was not told that I had regressed 1 cm as that would have crushed me. I was on such thin ice as it was, trying to keep it together.)

L was at -2 station and his head was bent off to the side, towards his right shoulder. Tracy wanted me to get upright and move so Barb suggested that I take a shower. I was whiney and didn’t want to move, I just wanted an epidural. Barb and Becca nearly carried me to the shower. The whole time I was pissed that I did all that work for “one lousy cm” and did the math that if it took 3 hours for 1 cm, how much longer it’ll take for the remaining 2-3 cm. I didn’t want to do it. This was at about 10:15 am.

Becca and I in the shower

The shower helped marginally but the contractions were still getting more intense. Becca sang hymns to me, trying to help me relax. Her voice sounded so sweet and I think it helped me come down from full-blown panic. I begged each person in turn to take me to the hospital for an epidural or caesarean. I was convinced that I absolutely cannot continue. Every person refused. I was frustrated that I didn’t get my way. I yell at them, “You’re not listening to me!” although I knew they were. Hubby told me that there’s nothing they can do to help me and I yelled at him, “You don’t know how much pain I’m in!” I told him that he’s going TOMORROW to get a vasectomy. Hubby told me that at one point I complained to him that he was “just being mean.”
I thought to myself that something must be wrong that I’m in such extreme pain. I begged God for a break. Just 20 minutes with no contractions. Everyone assured me that I’ll get a break after he’s born.

Tracy gave me some homeopathic medicine that might help turn his head straighter. I liked the taste of it, it tasted like sugar.

Around 10:45 I started to feel pushy so I get out of the shower and head back to the living room. I knelt and leaned on the ball and tried a few pushes. The first one felt really good, but after that the contractions consumed me and I could not conceive expending any energy with pushing, it’s all I could do to get through the contractions. I told Barb that he’s too big to come out. I ordered Hubby to call 911. He didn't of course.
Tracy reminded me that she could do AROM and told me to let her know if I wanted it done. I told her to "do it now". I was SO tired and desperate for anything to shorten the labour. I was no longer concerned about AROM making the labour more difficult as it was already way past my tolerance level, it didn't really matter if it was any worse. I tried to moan through them but they were so intense that it came out as a scream much of the time.

I got a brief moment of relief when she broke my water. I was then a solid 7 cm and his head, which had been floating, was now well applied but still wasn’t straight. The fluid was clear (no meconium).

Around 11, Tracy checked and I was a stretchy 9 cm, maybe 10 with a lip. It was time to start pushing!

(To be continued...)

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