Thursday, September 30, 2010

Birth Day

**Disclaimer: This is an actual, full-details birth story.  Don't read it if you're offended by stuff like pain, blood, and afterbirth.**

Anyone who has had any contact with me in the last week knows how ready I was to have a baby.  While I would never say it was a bad thing to go a little early, having every one of the kids early did condition me to think this last one would be early, too, no matter how much I kept telling myself otherwise.  So when I had contractions all Wednesday (Sept. 22nd) evening, and then woke up at 2:00 am Thursday morning to painful contractions 2 and 3 minutes apart, it was pretty disappointing when they stopped completely by 4:00 am--after I had showered and gotten ready to go to the hospital.  I was battling a bad attitude the rest of the week, but by Sunday I had stopped pulling out my iPhone to time every contraction I had, and I made plans for the coming week (made a hair appointment, volunteered to take dinner to someone else who'd had a baby, bought supplies for a new crafty project, etc.) to keep me busy. 

It's no surprise, to me at least, that after all my pleadings for the baby to come quickly, it is when I gave it up to Heavenly Father and let His timing be enough for me that He answered my prayers.  (Of course, that's not to say I wasn't still trying everything to get things going myself.  I have always loved to walk, and do you know how yummy raspberry tea is?) 

Monday morning, I woke up to go to the bathroom at about 3:15, and had a painful contraction.  I tried to get settled back to sleep when another one hit.  And then another.  Knowing I wasn't going back to sleep any time soon, I sighed and grabbed my iPhone off the nightstand and started timing them.  After a few that were less than 2 minutes apart, I realized how hard I was concentrating to breathe through them without waking Adam (and Katie, who was asleep on our bedroom floor).  At about 4:00 am I got up and put the last items into my hospital bag.  When the contractions still didn't stop by 4:15 am, the magical one hour mark from when they had started, I woke up Adam and asked him to put Katie back to bed so we wouldn't wake her, and we finished getting things together.  He called Shelli to come sit with the kids until they got up, and we left to go to the hospital. 

The whole way there, I was praying that they wouldn't send us back home.  Somewhere around 4:30 the contractions had slowed to 3-4 minutes apart, with the occasional longer interval, but they were hurting more, so I was hoping they were still doing something.  We went into labor and delivery and they hooked me up to the monitors to watch me for an hour and make sure I was progressing.  At that point I was dilated to 4 centimeters and 90% effaced, at a zero station.  The contractions slowed to about 4 minutes apart, and Adam and I sat quietly, each with our iPhone and iPod Touch (thank heaven for wifi at the hospital!), hoping something would change as I breathed through each contraction.  At 6:00 am, just before a shift change, the nurse came to check if I'd progressed.  At that point, she said I was maybe at 4+ centimeters, and it was decided they would give me another hour to progress.  If I didn't, they would send me home.  Again, we sat, mostly quietly, for another hour, as the intervals between the contractions didn't change much.  When the nurse came to check again, she said she could maybe say I was at 5 centimeters, but she didn't think that was enough progress alone to admit me, unless Dr. Winward felt otherwise.  So off she went to consult the doctor, and again I prayed they wouldn't send me home. 

When she came back about 20 minutes later, it was with the on-call doctor, Dr. Astle, saying she couldn't get Dr. Winward on the phone, so she was consulting him instead.  Dr. Astle checked me, and immediately declared I was dilated to a 6, and at a +1 station--we were going to have a baby that day!  He asked if I wanted him to break my water when we got to the delivery room, and I agreed to try that to get my contractions closer together. 

While I waited for them to move me to delivery, we called my mom so she could come over, and I sent Adam off to eat breakfast.  I was settled in delivery around 8, and around the same time my mom arrived.  Then the nurses tortured me by digging around in my veins three times before finally getting an IV started (that was easily my most unhappy memory of the day).  Adam came back from breakfast.  My contractions stopped, almost completely.  The nurse went off to find Dr. Astle to break my water to try to get things started again.  While we waited for him, my contractions started again slowly, about 4 and 5 minutes apart.  At about 9:00 am, the nurse came in with a bag of pitocin saying Dr. Astle was occupied and would be a little while. I asked for a small dose of pit so that they wouldn't start too hard and fast.  If I could still avoid an epidural, I was going to do it, and I knew too many contractions all at once after this rest would break my confidence. 

Finally, Dr. Astle arrived and broke my water at about 9:30 am.  At that point I was dilated to 7 centimeters.  Again, Adam, my mom and I sat talking and playing on our electronic devices quietly while I labored with contractions about 3 and 4 minutes apart.  I was having to breathe and concentrate with each one, but with so much time to rest between, I was still talking and laughing and feeling pretty good.  My mom went to eat, and Adam and I talked about names a little more.  It was around 10:30 am that I had a really painful contraction.  The pain was pretty distracting and I told Adam I needed to squeeze his hand.  I felt burning in my lower abdomen, and thought maybe if I used the restroom again it would take the discomfort down a notch.  We called the nurse in to help me and as I stood to wash my hands I had to really grip the sink to get through another really awful contraction.  I just kept whispering, "I can do this.  I can totally do this."  But I was shaking and I wasn't sure I could do it much longer.  The nurse was gone when I came out, so I got back into bed and Adam hooked up my monitors again before I had another contraction that freaked me out.  I told Adam I wanted to be checked.  Right then.  He called the nurse, this is where things got really fuzzy. 

I know my mom came back right around then.  And my nurse wasn't the one to come in.  It was a different nurse, and she kept asking me stupid questions like "what is your name?" and "what number is this for you?" and telling me annoying things like not to bend my wrist that way so the pitocin could get into my IV and that I needed to breathe.  I'm pretty sure I was involuntarily yelling and/or screaming a lot as the contractions rolled through me, flattening me like a freight train.  I asked her/told her to check me, and she said she would, after the contraction, but I told her that I was having another one, they were on top of each other, so she needed to check me.  She was assuring me that this is how it gets, that they just get closer together and longer, and that yes, she was going to check me when it stopped. 

Finally, the pain went down a tiny notch and I tried to catch my breath.  She checked me and said, "Oh, were going to have a baby right now, we need to call your doctor to get here!"  The panic in her voice mirrored my own panic, and I knew the doctor wasn't going to be there.  I had to push right then.  There was a lot of hustle and bustle and lots of people coming in, but all I remember then was screaming and pain for the longest moment, then pushing once, and then twice, like an explosion, and feeling her slide right out of me.  It was the most intense sense of relief I could ever describe.  Luckily, they hadn't taken the bed all the way apart, so she landed on the bed, and I remember hearing her cry and looking down as the nurse scooped her up and checking to make sure she was, indeed, a girl.  Not that she was okay, mind you, because it hadn't registered in my brain that no one had caught her. 

Dr. Astle came in from the next room over and told a nurse to call Dr. Winward back, that she could turn around and go back home.  I told Adam to get the camera, and he and my mom moved away.  Someone asked if Dad was cutting the cord, and I said no, but that Grandma could if she still wanted to (Adam is really not fond of the blood-and-guts stuff, he stays well out of view of it all).  I heard nurses discussing what time she was born, and they decided on 10:56 am.  Around this time I jokingly, but shakily, told the nurses I was ready for the pain meds.  I held the baby, so white from the vernix because she was so early, as Dr. Astle declared not that I had ripped to pieces as I thought, but that there would be no stitches at all.  The baby and Adam (with the camera) went with the baby nurses, and Dr. Astle delivered the afterbirth.  He took the time to show the placenta to me and my mom, which was really cool since even though this was my fourth baby I had never seen it before.  It was the most amazing thing to be able to move as they put the bed back together, and not have to rely on everyone to lift and move my legs.  Even though I was in pain, it was so much better than being completely numb and helpless.  I was shaky and tired, but it was over, and I felt pretty much okay. 

Slowly things calmed down, they weighed and measured the baby--6 lbs 10 oz and 19 inches long--and brought her back to me to nurse.  She was perfect, healthy, and beautiful.  I marveled at her pretty dark hair, like Katie's when she was born, and how when she cried, her mouth looked just like Max's. 

After the room cleared and it was just our family, Adam told me about the SUU student who had been shadowing my nurse.  She had come in with her when I had asked to be checked, and had witnessed the whole thing.  She stood across the room, her mouth agape in shock and horror when the baby came, and stayed that way for a couple of minutes after, he said.  Poor girl.  She will probably never want to have children after that!  I wished later, after I knew the shift was long over and she was gone, that I could talk to her.  I wanted to tell her that as scary and painful as it looked from across the room, for me it was the most wonderful, surreal, amazing, and fleeting experience.  One I am so very grateful for and will try to hold on to the memory of forever, despite the realization that my memory of it already feels like it's fading.  This was the experience I had hoped for with every baby, and never quite got to because I panicked and had an epidural when it got scary.  I finally got to have my perfect birth experience, as painful and unpredictable as it was.  And that I would do it again because of the result: the most beautiful, perfect, tiny child laying in my arms. 


kimberly/tippytoes said...

Great birth story! Congratulations again! You both look beautiful!

Zachary and Allyson said...

There are so many people having babies it makes me so baby hungry!
I love to read birth stories. It makes me think about when my two kids were born.
You are so awesome to do it without and epidural! When Zach and I decide to have our next kid I really want to do it without and epidural. I came close with Weston cuz the epidural only numbed my legs and right after they fixed it he was born.
You have such a cute new baby! Congratulations!

Kelie said...

Thanks for sharing your story...I'm so happy that you had your perfect delivery experience! Way to go on not giving into the epidural! Very inspiring to me! She is adorable and I couldn't be happier for you!

Jen, Gabe and kiddos said...

What a lovely story, Rachel! I'm so happy for you guys. I too plan to go without an epidural for the next one as they never work on me anyway! =)

Jake and Stephanie Perrin said...

Congrats!! she is beautiful!! Way to go on not giving in.. I had the epidural with Jonathan and since i have had C sections since Kayleigh, i never got that chance but i would probably chicken out! ;) Enjoy your newest addition!

Molly said...

I am so excited it went so perfectly! It's a great story. She is adorable!

Kurt and Shelli Barnum said...

What a wonderful miracle! I am so glad you have the story documented! It is something she will treasure her whole life! You are an amazing woman! Congratulations!

The Yoder's Four said...

Woo! You are a superstar, Rach! I had no idea you wanted to go all natural. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who screamed like crazy pushing the baby out. Most painful thing I've ever done. I can't believe she just plopped out onto the bed!!!!

She's beautiful, by the way!! :)

Echolaylee said...

I'm so happy for you. Congrats on making it through without an epidural. She's beautiful.