Every birth has its story. I blogged about my daughter's birth and so I will blog about my son's birth, especially since they were such different experiences for me.
To understand his labor & delivery, you must understand that his was a unique pregnancy, to say the least. I am generally a healthy person. I was not considered a high-risk pregnancy, and none of my complications were dangerous to either myself or the baby, thankfully. But there were some complications. Without getting into too much detail here about that (trust me, you'll thank me), I'll just say that there was a lot of prolapse going on and things were very uncomfortable for me. To top it off, the baby was sitting very, very low and in the last few weeks I ended up with a separation in my pubic symphysis. His movements even started to become painful to me, I guess due to the lack of room in there and the fact that everything was so low. Needless to say, it was not the most comfortable pregnancy & I was looking forward to the end of it!
At my 36 week appointment, my Dr. told me that I was 99% effaced, 1cm dilated and at a station of -1. She was pretty sure I would go into labor within the week!! Yay!! I was so excited that the end was near!! And she told me this again at my 37 week appointment, my 38 week appointment, my 39 week appointment & my 40 week appointment. I should also add here that I started having some intense braxton hicks contractions around the 30 week point too. Some were consistent & timeable, but never amounted to anything. Yet they stayed for the rest of the pregnancy. Every day I had contractions and every day no baby. I started to believe that I would never go into labor & was coming to terms with the thought of being pregnant forever.
On June 2nd, my due date, I had some contractions earlier in the day but they went away as usual so I thought nothing of it. Around 2pm my 2 year old daughter, K, and I took a nap together. At the time, that meant that I sat in a recliner with my legs up & she bear-hugged me until she was asleep. Yes, she was right on top of the baby. He's fine. Don't judge me. That day I could not take a nap because his movements were "just very painful" as I described to Laura on the phone. At one point, I started having actual timeable contractions, 5 minutes apart for about 25 minutes but again, nothing came of it. Around 5pm I asked Laura when she was coming home from work because it was just a very uncomfortable day for me & I wanted to try to lay down for a little bit, which is impossible with a rambunctious toddler in the mix. No more actual contractions, no signs of labor, just general discomfort & somewhat painful baby movements. This went on for the rest of the afternoon into evening, but neither of us was all that concerned because, like I said, this was all par for the course for this pregnancy.
After dinner Laura took K outside to play and I stayed inside to relax by myself for a little while. I don't know at what point the contractions started, I don't think I was even aware of it. I don't know when I transitioned to the labor ball either - it was not a conscious decision - but when Laura came inside somewhere between 7 & 8 pm, I was face down on the labor ball! Laura came in and said to me, "So, we're in labor then?" and it wasn't until that point that I had even consciously registered it as a possibility! She timed my "twinges" as I was calling them, as I relaxed to the sounds of Empire Records playing in the background (no one bothered to turn off the TV and frankly, sexy Rexy is a great way to keep you relaxed and laughing).
I held off on calling my mom to come watch K because I wanted to be sure I was in labor. My biggest fear was getting to the hospital too soon and either getting sent home or laboring for a longer than desired time at the hospital. But it's a good thing that Laura convinced me it was time to call her because by the time she got to our house my contractions were about 3 minutes apart, lasting about 45 seconds each!! Yet for whatever reason, I was STILL not convinced that it was time to go to the hospital! I was hoping to be about 5cm when we got to the hospital, but I was already at 7cm!! Up until the car ride, labor was relatively "easy", as far as labor goes. The techniques I learned in class really helped me get through some of the bigger contractions, and I felt good about being able to go through with the natural birth. The car ride to the hospital was probably the worst because that's when the labor pains moved to my back. But I was amazed at how much more bearable they were as soon as I remembered to relax and release the muscles in my back, even though my body wanted to tense them up. When I relaxed them, the pain was nowhere near as bad! But as the contractions got closer together it was becoming more difficult to relax through them since there was barely any let-up and I could not find a comfortable position in the car. And not wanting to leave the car unattended at the ER entrance in Camden, we parked in the garage a block away and walked through the hospital, probably helping progress my labor even further (thanks Laura), haha!
Honestly, I couldn't have had a medicated birth this time around even if I wanted one! When I came in, I was at 7cm, and by the time they got me up to the L&D room, I was at 9! There wouldn't have been time for it! There was only 1 split-second that I started to doubt my abilities, and it was when the nurse was getting the Dr. I looked at Laura and said, "Tell me I can do this?". She did, and that was it. The thought left my mind as quickly as it had entered.
I think what surprised me the most about this time around was 1. How FAST it was, and 2. How crazy the urge to push is!! With K's birth, I had an epidural and so I never felt an urge to push, they just told me it was time and I pushed for over an hour and a half. This time, there was no denying it. I was the one telling them it was happening, and NOW! It was amazing! It was surreal, it was primal, it was almost animalistic, but it was definitely automatic. I absolutely understand what they say about how your body just knows what to do - I had no control over it, I couldn't stop it (like they had asked me to) and something just took over me and I was on autopilot. There was no questioning how to push or if I was doing it right, or if there was any progress, it all just happened on its own. All I had to do was not interfere, LOL.
In the HypnoBirthing classes, they showed films of women laying peacefully in tubs of water or in beds or wherever they were when the baby came. They were tranquil, in a sleep-like state and in 100% control of their bodies & that gave them peace and empowerment. I was not like that. I was not in control of my body at all. My baby was. And I was OK with that. I DID feel empowered; I trusted that my body would know what to do and I let it happen. After I told the nurse that I was ready to push she told me to wait until the Dr. came into the room, and I just sort-of laughed at her. And so R was born without the doctor there. An intern delivered him and the resident showed up just seconds after he arrived. Yes, it was that fast. I could feel where he was the whole way through and I knew when he was getting closer. It was such an amazing experience and there really are no words to describe it.
There was a bit of commotion at first while the NICU team checked him out (he had passed some meconium while in utero & they wanted to make sure he didn't inhale or ingest any of it) so I did not hear that he was a HE until Laura told me! They held him right in front of me while they checked his airway for a few seconds & then placed him on me as requested. I could not believe that I did it!! Even though I was confident, I guess a small part of me still thought that a natural birth was going to be this painful, horrible experience. And while it definitely had its moments of pain, it was nowhere near what I had originally feared. It was the most amazing moment of my life, and I am so thankful that I had the courage to do it this way. I saw his face and my heart melted. It was the same feeling I had after K was born, and yet so much different at the same time. My body is amazing. I can do anything.
Everything else that followed has proven to me that one decision can affect many, many things in a chain reaction. For me it was the epidural. With K, I had it and I know that this slowed my labor down. And since I couldn't 100% feel how I was pushing my recovery was awful. I was in a lot of pain and I needed Percocet to keep it at bay for about a week. That caused her to be sleepy and she wasn't very interactive and she didn't want to eat, which led to nursing issues and weight loss. Which led to high biliruben levels and jaundice and required us to go back to the hospital for more tests for her. I dreaded going home, not knowing how I was going to manage everything without a staff of nurses to bring me ice & medication. I didn't leave the house for over a month, save the dreaded doctor appointments. With R, there was no epidural. Recovery was almost a breeze. I managed my pain with some Tylenol & Advil when I needed it, which was only for about 3 days. He was happy and alert and took to nursing immediately. No weight loss issues. No jaundice. I couldn't wait to get home, so they discharged us the day after he was born. We were out & about bringing K to Little Gym less than a week later. I do not think that this is a coincidence.
So while I didn't have the serene HypnoBirth that I had planned for, I am more than thrilled about the birth that I did experience. I am so happy that I found the confidence in myself to follow through with a natural childbirth this time around, and if I have a third child I am certain that this will be my goal as well. My body is amazing. I can do anything.