Friday, March 1, 2013

Baby Q Birth Story

When considering when and how to write this down, the first question I had to ask myself was at what point do I start? Since I have these two posts already:

Prodromal Labor and Three Days Past the "Expected" Date

41 Weeks and Contractions Continue

I guess I'll start where I left off.

The last day I wrote was Tuesday the 5th of February. Wednesday and Thursday crawled by. The thought that was beginning to really consume my mind was what happens if I get to 42 weeks? At that point, I knew I'd have to go for a biophysical profile at a hospital and get an OB/GYN to sign off on waiting any longer without induction. If no one would sign off, then I would have to make the choice of having a very medical birth in a hospital or going against medical advice. Neither of which options sounded appealing to me.

Wednesday night I got a bit of a mind refocus and that was due to the fact that we were informed that our Butterfly was leaving permanently (at least theoretical permanence) to go with family. Departure: Friday morning. So Thursday Chris and I spent a couple of hours packing up Butterfly's room, sorting through what belonged to the cottage and what belonged to her. That night we spent some time with her saying goodbye--which was hard. She has been a challenge to have in the cottage, just due to her age, but she is a darling little girl and such a good friend for Blueberry, saying goodbye was not easy.

I did notice what felt like an upsurge in the intensity of contractions during the day Thursday. However, I really didn't pay it much mind as at that point it had become hard to tell if I was just exhausted and feeling it more or if it was legitimately more intense.

Thursday night I had a really hard time sleeping, even with my nightly rituals of bath, Benadryl, etc. But I woke up Friday morning about the same as every other of the past 10 days. Still contracting regularly, and still not delivering a baby!

Around noon, Chris decided to go to the store with Blueberry. We had necessities we were running out of. He went out and got our mail, I helped get  Blueberry ready to go out and lay down to take a nap. I lay down before they were even gone, and popped up about 10 minutes later, hungry and unable to fall asleep. I went to the kitchen, heated up some leftovers, and noticed a package sitting on the counter.

Hillery had told me she had put something in the mail for me, so I opened it up, and found chocolate (yum!), an encouraging note, and two essential oils, one of which is Clary Sage which is supposed to help induce labor. She had sent me some links via email, so I snagged my bowl of food, brought the oils to the table, and sat down to check the links and see how to use the Clary Sage.

I literally had just fully sat down in the chair when I felt the oddest sensation of gushing wet. My first thought--did I just pee myself? My second though--Oh my word, I think my water just broke. I popped up right away and waddled my way down to the bathroom. The continuing gushes of water along the way confirming for me that I had not just completely lost control of my bladder but that something else was happening here.

Now I will admit, the scariest moment for me was sitting down and using the toilet and realizing that the water coming out was not the clear amniotic fluid one wants to see when one's water breaks, but a wierd green/black mix. I've read enough about post-expected babies to know that this is a sign that the baby has pooped in the water and that could be a problem.

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to grab my cellphone as I had hurried down the hallway, so the first call I made was to Chris. The conversation went something like this (keep in mind, he's barely 10 minutes out of the house): "Hello?" Me--"My water just broke." Him--giant pause--"Um, so now what?" Me--"Can you come home now, please?" Him--with a sound of relief for getting a direct order on what to do at this point--"On my way!"

Next phone call, my midwife. We had talked earlier that morning about what would occur at 42 weeks and also how I was feeling. I had mentioned feeling like the contractions were harder but being unsure given the last 10 days of my life. She had said to just let her know if anything changed, and to give her as much heads-up as possible as she was in Conway for the day with clients there (an hour and a half away).

The first question she had for me was about if my contractions had increased. I told her no, I hadn't had a single contraction since my water broke (I realization I just had when she asked me that). We then had a brief discussion about the color of the water, which she requested a picture of (really, pregnancy has no bounds on privacy, and thank the Lord for cellphones with cameras that allow for picture texting). About one minute later, the first contraction hit. And it was hard. Double or triple the intensity of what I'd been dealing with for the last 10 days. I told Shea what was going on. She instructed to time the contractions for half an hour, she was going to finish up with her current client, and call me back and see what was happening.

Around that time, Christopher got home with Blueberry. By that point, I was standing up, breathing through contractions which were coming rapidly. I gave some very terse instructions regarding grabbing her bag and dropping her off with friends on campus, and to please hurry! By the time he had snagged her stuff, dropped her off, and gotten back (maybe 10 minutes?), I was no longer standing up through contractions but bending over, holding on to the bathroom counter for dear life.

Right at that time, Shea called back, and he quickly updated her on the increase that had occurred even since he had returned home. We made the decision to move out to Barbara's house again, and she was going to drive straight back and be there as fast as she could. Fortunately, Barbara herself was in town, and so she was going to meet us at the house.

The 15 minutes it took us to get loaded into the car and to Barbara's house was miserable. I'd forgotten how dang uncomfortable contractions in a car are. Those seats are at the worst possible angle ever! It was a relief to pull up to Barbara's house (although, for my sake, we parked at the back of the house which meant I didn't have to go up 15+ stairs to get into the house, but did require a rather bumpy drive up her non-paved back driveway). Barbara herself arrived just behind us as Chris was opening the house up.

I remember walking up the two steps to the house, avoiding the tree root along the way. The back door opens straight into what is the bedroom/morning room. It's a beautiful room with windows on three sides, that looks straight into the woods. The bed was already down (it's one of those beds that can be lifted up flush to the wall), which was fortunate because the only thing I wanted to do at that point was to bend over something during contractions.

Chris was busy getting some stuff into the house, and I remember getting on my knees and just breathing through the contractions with my head buried in the bed as my arms supported the rest of me. Barbara started doing her thing--taking my blood pressure, babies heart rate, etc. We talked briefly about the color of the amniotic fluid, and she said that we would know what to do as soon as he was born, but that right now, his heart rate was good, and to not stress about it.

After that, things get blurry. I spent the next few hours either kneeling on the floor (which someone fortunately had the presence of mind to put some cushions under my knees--mind you, I still had bruised shins for several days), kneeling on the bed (much more comfortable), or holding on to Chris as I was in the bathroom.

One thing I knew for certain. Any time Chris left and wasn't there for me to hold on to during a contraction, I got severly annoyed! I couldn't even talk through most of them, but the midwives were smart enough to know that when I was banging my hand against the bed where he was supposed to be, I was wanting my husband there. Poor thing got two bathroom breaks, and maybe a water break! And I was very irritated that he left for those!

Where does your mind go in between focused pain? Well, early on, I knew Chris was texting several people between contractions. I had not quite lost my sense of my humor yet, and told him to text the following message to Hillery:

"Got package. Water broke. Your fault. Labor now."

Interestingly, at least I found it interesting, was how much my mind kept slipping back to Blueberry's birth and some of the negatives of that experience and how (a) different this was and (b) much I didn't want anything to go wrong that would put me back in that situation again. 

Most of the time, it was just blurry. Between contractions, all I wanted to do was rest. Shea would do the occasional check on Baby Q to make sure he was okay. And I remember we did one cervical check early on--gah! I hate those so much. But she wanted to see how far I was dilated; which I had to be careful because I wasn't fully dilated and was having to try to not push so as not to swell my cervix. Which was actually hard not to do. That check was the one time I really was not happy as it flat out hurt. I remember them hurting in the hospital too, so fortunately, I wasn't getting them done every hour or more as they insisted on in the hospital.

I think it was around 4:30 or so that Shea suggested I might want to get in the bath. That was the first real suggestion I was completely on board with. Sadly, the bath took FOREVER to fill up, and when you're that impatient to be getting somewhere, it was rather torturous! To be honest, I had completely lost all sense of the passage of time. I just knew "contracting time" vs "rest time". My back was siezing up again, and the application of hot compresses helped, but I knew that the water was going to be 10 times better, so I pretty much lived through several contractions for the moment I could get into the tub!

And yes, it was wonderful. Contractions are hard, and they certainly didn't get any easier as time went on. But there's something about the feel of the hot water that eased some of the pressure and pain, at least in-between times, and rebalanced me a little bit. 

I don't actually know how long I pushed for. I just remember getting to a point where I knew I had to push, and was pushing. I had backed myself up into the corner of the tub into a full squat, which was about the most comfortable position I could find at the time. At one point, Barbara checked to see where the baby was at, and they realized that he was crowning and about to come out. 

At that point, I was trying to get into a position where I was more fully emersed in the water  or more out of the water. A baby needs to be born either directly into the water or fully out of the water. Once they hit air, their lungs start working, so they can't be part in and out. Well, Baby Q proved a little different there. 

He finally started to emerge, and (I was rather oblivious to all this at this point--fortunately), Shea caught him, but his cord was caught around his shoulder and neck, and he slid out of her hands into the water! Barbara, snagged him, and fortunately he was just fine, but it was a rather tense time for a few minutes, as they quickly did his APGAR test. Breathing was fine, he was a little shell-shocked for a minute and his color wasn't as pink as desired, but that quickly cleared up in the next minute. 

The immediate afterbirth time was so different than the hospital. I still had to deliver the placenta, so I stayed in the bath, and just held Baby Q. He, unlike his sister, was all about the latching on and nursing right away, and in fact, appeared to get a little milk drunk right off the bat. There was no scurrying around to clean him off, weigh him, etc. I just got to hold him and drink him in. 

Finally, Chris took him and I stood up to see if we could get anywhere with the placenta delivery as it just wasn't cooperating. Apparently standing up was the trick. After that it was getting some stitches and then the world's best herbal bath with Baby Q. That's a luxury you don't get in a hospital, and one of the best baths I've ever had. 

Oh, and we squeezed a Facetime call to Blueberry in there as well and introduced her that way to her little brother. She spent the night at a friend's house and was very sleepy by the time we got to talk to her!

I was also starving and thirsty. Draining multiple glasses of Emergen-C, water, and other juices. And scarfing down Kow Dom (Thai rice porridge). Again, very different from what I got at the hospital which was a closed cafateria and a little bit of fruit being all that could be found for me. 

While I was in the bath, Chris was busy making some phone calls. It was about 11:30ish when I was settled into bed and we finally Skyped Baby Q's Nana and Papa in Thailand--anxiously waiting for a call from us for several hours! I do love modern technology--being able to share Baby Q with them so quickly, if not in person, meant so much. I think about how my mom never got to share her babies to my grandparents until months after we were all born--at least this way they get to kind of see him in a more immediate fashion. We also

That night was pure sweetness. No IVs stuck in my arm. No nurses coming in and out to check on me or the baby. Just Christopher, myself, and our little bundle.

Given time to reflect, I have to say that I thoroughly appreciated our experience of home birth. The process of giving birth itself is simply not easy, but there is a definite attitude that comes from the hospital that I did not experience this time around. I felt like I was in control. I was birthing this baby. Not, I was the patient who was a problem who the doctors were in charge of delivering me of my baby. 

The care and love showered on us by our midwives was fantastic. Having the relationship with them that we had completely changed our experience in that way as well. I have trust with them that I never felt with the doctors in the hospital. There I felt like I was so much on the clock that if I wasn't performing correctly (which I didn't with Blueberry), I became a problem. If I wasn't willing to comply with their normal procedures (which I also didn't!), I was even more of a problem. With the midwives, they knew what I wanted; they were there to help provide that. But at the same time, I knew that they are experienced and knowledgeable, and if something had happened, I would have comfortably taken their word for it that we needed help or a procedure needed to be done. 

On the prodromal labor part--I am glad that is over. Interestingly, I really do believe, upon reflection of Blueberry's birth, that if I had done a homebirth with her as well, I would have experienced the same thing. But given that we were in a hospital, I was instead pushed into various interventions to fit their time schedule and expectations. Was 10 days a little long for regular contractions--in some ways yes. But the 6 hour labor at the end of it with no complications was rewarding. 

All in all, I'm proud of myself for sticking with my heart about wanting a home birth experience (if at all possible), and working through the labor and delivery without the benefit of drugs, etc. I have had no postpartum depression with Baby Q. Tiredness, obviously, and some irritability that has come with that. But with Blueberry, I remember some times of just weeping, and feeling like I was in mourning. It took me a long time to emotionally deal with my hospital experience with her. There's been no experience of mourning with Baby Q--just rejoicing. My reflections on the entire time--including the 10 days of craziness--are peaceful and satisfactory. And that is a huge gift.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am super proud of you for sticking it out. A true labor of love and gift to Baby Q. I am so glad that you felt the love of the midwives and were in such good hands. Also, water (bath) = natural birth epidural, no? Love my hot showers during labor! Love to you all, a. j