Wednesday, January 20, 2010
8:28 PM | Edit Post
(talks briefly of a lost baby, and touches on past negative birth experience, you may want to avoid this if you are sensitive to those things)
My first birth was NOT super. We were 19, unprepared, and just trying to survive in a whirlwind of family judgment, and financial strain. Our little surprise blessing was born 3 weeks "early"after 38 hours, drugs that made me unbearably itchy, epidural, a vacuum extraction, tearing and cutting, and more stitches than my doctor cared to count. We were of course thrilled to have our beautiful little girl, but aside from her, the only good thing I walked away from that experience with was a longing for something better for all of us.
After about a year, we got the internet and I met some amazing women online that I'm still friends with today. They challenged me to think beyond the norm, and I spent an unfathomable amount of time learning everything I could about breastfeeding and parenting in general. Then one day I found a brochure for a midwife in our local area and a light bulb came on! I hadn't even thought such an option would be available here! Then it was on to furious learning about birth, although I wasn't even pregnant again or even trying yet!
We planned to have a home birth. I learned deep relaxation techniques using Hypnobabies. The knowledge and experiences I found online blessed my heart every day and I felt like we were moving in a really positive direction.
We finally decided to try for baby #2, and were successful on the 2nd month after having my IUD out. Baby was due around the same time our first little girl would turn 3. We were THRILLED. Then, Hyperemesis hit me. I'd had it the first time too, but this was considerably worse. As the infamous Heather Armstrong, aka Dooce would say, "It sucked and then I cried". Anyway, I survived that hell with my sanity barely intact.
Later in my pregnancy, a dear friend of ours moved in with us briefly as she was between homes. She had lost a full-term son right before I found out I was pregnant. Despite my fears that it would be too hard for her to be around me pregant, she was the epitome of a perfect friend, and I loved that time with her. We spent a lot of time crying and laughing together. One day, we all sat in the living room, and I commented on how unusually active baby was being that day. My friend said that baby was bound to come at any time! I said "Nahh, I'm only 36 weeks, baby has to finish baking". That night, I put plastic down under our sheet, just in case, not anticipating putting it to use for some time. I had felt all along that baby would be "early" like my first, but I was still hoping I was wrong!
I guess there is something to be said for intuition! My water broke in bed the next morning. I said to my husband "Wake up! But don't roll over!" He mumbled grumpily, and of course rolled right into the enormous puddle. I had leaped out of bed, and still continued to gush shocking amounts of water onto the floor. HOW was there that much inside me?! Hmmm... no contractions. I hopped in the shower while my husband got things together and called Debbie, my midwife. She came over and we had some things to discuss.
Group B Strep (GBS) had shown up in a very early pregnancy urine test. This meant I was "highly colonized" at that time. I had also tested positive for it in my first pregnancy, and the early breaking of my waters with no contractions was another warning sign for GBS. All these things together meant I was "high risk" for GBS. She had me swab myself so we could send off for the results and at least get them back after the birth so we'd know whether to watch baby for signs of it. In addition to all this, I was also 4 weeks "early", AND Rh negative (risk of blood incompatibility junk). Since our local hospital SUCKS and is now a student hospital to top it off, I decided there was no way I wanted to count on those people to take care of a serious problem if need be, or to even handle a few little tests or something afterwards if it was needed. On top of that, I was plagued with memories of my own first birth there, years of my grandpa being in that hospital, AND being there with my friend as she had to birth her angel baby. I REALLY wanted to be as far as possible from there.
We made the decision to go to the free standing birthing center in a bigger city about 45 minutes away. My midwife volunteered there, and it was right near a good hospital. As my labor had not even begun, we figured the long drive would be no biggie.
The birthing center was amazing. It was just like a great big house, and we had the top floor to ourselves. A "family area" which was just a big living room and kitchen. My room was just like an actual bedroom with a big bed in it. Nothing was "clinical" feeling at all. It was really comfortable. There was an incredible big tub too. I was in HEAVEN!!!
We had hoped our daughter could be there for the birth if she wanted, but since we didnt even know when labor was going to START, we let her go stay with her favorite aunt who was right there in town. Then we waited. I was still losing a lot of water any time I sat for a while and then stood up. I had forgotten the small detail that the water never stops being produced, lol. Messy!
I rocked on a birth ball, I walked all over the neighborhood, I went up and down the stairs over and over... NO labor. Just a few weenie contractions. They wondered if my Hypnobabies training was SO effective that I was in labor and just not realizing it, lol. I didn't think so. I opened myself up to feeling anything, and there was nothing. Then I tried some homeopathic stuff my midwife had (gasp! I know, an "intervention!"). Everyone was loving and supportive. Nothing was done without me fully understanding and wanting it, and that made all the difference in the world to me. Still... no labor. We even locked ourselves in the bedroom for a few hours and tried nipple and clitoral stimulation (all scrubbed up of course). I got to have some fun, heehee, but still... no labor!
Boy was I glad to not be in a hospital, because they would have given me a c-section after 24 hours, because of my broken water and the "risk of infection". I took some immune boosting herbs every few hours, and did rinses with grapefruit seed extract in water every time i peed, to cut down my risk of infection. Our vitals were monitored closely, and I didn't have even a hint of a fever or anything, so I said that as long as we were both doing perfectly well, we’d stay at the birthing center. I felt very at peace and in-tune with baby.
My husband was a doll. I asked for some food from the grocery store, and he returned with about a week's worth of groceries, lol. He said he just wanted to make sure I had everything I could possibly crave.
Finally, after 43 hours of being STUPID and wearing myself out trying to get things going, I asked if we should do an internal exam to see if there was something we could discover. So Debbie (my midwife) and I scrubbed up really good. I was still only at 2 or 3 cm after all that time, but VERY stretchy. The problem was, my baby was posterior, and her head wasn't down in the right way to get my cervix to open up. Turns out, my cervix was also pointing way towards my back. She could feel the baby moving her head and trying to get into place. My wimpy and sporadic contractions were totally ineffective of course.
I decided to have Debbie try to manually dilate me, and BOY was I glad for my Hypnobabies training then! I got down on my knees and supported my front on a birthing ball, because she couldn't even reach my cervix with me laying down. Over the next 6 hours, she managed to dialate me to 8 cm, turn the baby’s head, and pull my cervix forward. I'd have hard contractions then, but every time I got up to pee and come back, everything would be back to the way it was. Cervix at 2-ish and posertior, and baby was again posterior too. We went though this several times. I used my "deepening" cd for hypnosis to keep me under. It was incredible. I didn't feel a thing, and I had no sense of how much time was passing. I was able to support myself on that ball that whole time without even moving. They said my legs started to shudder a little from exhaustion, but I didn't feel that either.
FINALLY, things got in place and stayed that way! My contractions hit fast and furious. Instead of begging for an epidural, I found myself begging for a nap, lol. I was so exhausted from spending all that time walking, going up and down stairs, using the birthing ball, doing pelvic rocks, and all that jazz. I got into the tub. My mom was a HUGE help, and my poor husband was at this point useless and just trying not to pass out. I had practiced my hypnobabies in complete silence, so when my birthing time came, every little sound was distracting me. Oops! A contraction would come, and I’d start to fight it, then my mom would put her hand on my shoulder and say "release!!!", and BAM! I’d go as limp as a noodle. They had to keep the water shallow because I’d shut TOTALLY off and just sink way down.
Then suddenly, I was pushing without even meaning to! It was such an amazing feeling! I hadn't been able to feel that when I gave birth to Brooklyn. They had to TELL me to push with her. This time it was "well, apparently I’m at 10, because my body is pushing without me!"
I ended up having to get out of the tub to finish birthing her. My body was too tired to support myself well enough. They also lost her heart beat with their little hand-held doppler and said I had to get her out ASAP. So... she was actually starting to crown WHILE I got out of the tub and moved to the bed. It turns out that my scarring from my last birth was so deep that it wasn't allowing me to stretch very well. It was a tad scary in that time, because they still didn't have a heartbeat on her, and I was having trouble stretching enough. My midwife used her hands to help push me over baby's head, and at 8:45 am on the 13th of March, it FINALLY happened.
She came out perfect and screaming. All was well. My darling husband, mom, and grandma all cried. My husband told me that it was a girl (we hadn't known), and then promptly had to call and tell everyone, lol. My grandma cut the umbilical cord after a while when it was done giving our baby all her blood. Having my baby girl placed in my arms was so amazing. Its such a different experience to not be doped up. It was the high of a lifetime! I would never do it the other way again. All in all, it was about 49 hours of waiting and only about one hour of real labor and birth.
I just needed 3 little stitches from tearing, no biggie. Hubby, baby, and I all curled up in the bed for a little nap.
Debbie brought us some incredible Thai food. Once I had eaten and rested a bit, I was up and around and feeling fantastic beyond belief! When I talked to people on the phone, they joked about how much drugs I must be on, but it was pure birth bliss. I think most of them were under the impression that a birthing center is just like a hospital, lol, when in reality it was just a beautiful house. We went home that SAME afternoon. We even stopped to briefly visit my in-laws and let them meet our still vernix-covered baby.
Alas, our adventure was still not over.
The next day, baby was starting to look a little yellow. By that night, when Debbie came over to our house to check on us, she was looking REALLY yellow. It was a bit unusual for jaundice to show up so early. Since I’m a negative blood type, and baby is a positive one, we had to make sure that it wasn't an issue with blood incompatibility. We decided that we shouldn't even wait til morning, so we took her in to the hospital to get it checked out. That ended up being a total nightmare. It was my mom, Debbie, and I with the baby, and they tried to tell us there couldn't be that many people with her, but I promptly told them to bite me. It certainly wasn't hurting anyone for us to just be sitting in a room with her.
They spent 3 HOURS just trying to get enough blood out of her for the tests. They couldn't use a heel poke as they do for some other tests, this particular blood had to be straight from the vein. They were all confused as to why there was a newborn coming in to them at all. Shouldn't we have been up in the maternity ward where they are used to this sort of thing? -sigh- It had to be the worst 3 hours of my life. It was after 8 in the morning before we finally got to go to the maternity ward. We’d spent all night in the ER. They put my mom and I in a room WITH the baby (I’d have liked to see them try and tell me she had to be in the nursery), and got her set up with the special lights for her jaundice. They had ruled out blood issues, and determined it was just normal jaundice, so that was a relief.
My mom and I spent 2 nights in the hospital with her, until her levels were down "enough". Our insurance wouldn't cover having the lights machine at home like they had for our first daughter. Forrest had to stay home to be with Brooklyn. I missed him a lot, but we decided it was better to keep things as normal for Brooklyn as possible, instead of sending her to be with someone else so Forrest could be with me. It was so hard to be away from them, but hey, at least I didnt have to cook.
Despite being 4 weeks early, baby was well baked, lol. 6 pounds 14 ounces. She nursed like a champ too! The hospital said she might have problems with that, and offered formula. I promptly told them to screw right off. They didn't even ASK how nursing was going, just threw out that assumption. Any time she had to get her heel poked for the jaundice test, they wanted to just cart her off to the nursery with out me. That was another big hell no. I would hold her the entire time, or they weren't allowed to touch her. Then they looked at me like I was the meaneset mom in the world for refusing to give her sugar water before and during the poke. "What, you don't want to lessen your baby's pain?!" HELLOOO.. I have BOOBS. Duh.
All this time, our baby was still without a name. We jokingly called her "Bob 2", as we had jokingly called our first daughter "Bob" while waiting 3 days to settle on her name. While I had been pregnant, my beloved grandpa, Charles, had passed away. My husband had chosen the name Gabriel Charles if our baby was to be a boy, but I had nothing chosen for a girl. I felt I needed to meet her first. My grandmother had jokingly suggested "Charlene", as it is a feminine version of "Charles", and we didn't feel it suited her. When I looked it up in the baby name book, I saw that Charlotte was another feminine version of Charles. Still, we didn't settle on it at that time. When we came home from the hospital, hubby and I talked and realized we had both gotten Charlotte stuck in our heads and had begun to think of her as that. So we finally named her Charlotte Annalee.
Anyway, those couple of days were long, but we finally began our lives as a family of 4. It wasn't the simple "mom births baby in a pool of water with candles lit, and that is that" kind of experience, but it was still something I treasure. I would highly recommend considering a midwife and Hypnobabies to anyone planning on having a baby. It makes all the difference in the world to at least understand what your body is supposed to do, and not fear it.
Bless you all! Please feel free to ask questions and share your own stories. If you've hung in through this crazy long story, at least drop me a short comment to say hi :-)
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- ▼ January (19)