Friday, May 28, 2010

Lucy's Birth Story: Part 4, the grand finale and lots of pics

Warning: this post may be too graphic for some of you if you are squeamish. You've been warned.

So I finally feel the urge to push and am 9 1/2 cm dilated. I start pushing on my knees facing the back of the bed with my head and arms up over the back of the bed resting on pillows. I'm not sure why but I didn't stay in that position long, maybe because I was too weak to hold myself up in that way. I rolled over onto my back in the more traditional pushing position. The nursery nurse was there, my nurse was there, Mandy was there, and mom and Rich were there holding my legs as I pushed. My doctor popped in and out (every time she left I realized I still had a long ways to go or she wouldn't have left, that was discouraging). The first few pushes I was not pushing effectively because I was yelling, so after I settled down and got a feel for how to push it was much better. Suprisingly, this stage was much less painful than I expected. It was physically the most exhausting thing I've ever done, and by the end I was completely breathless and sweaty and had busted blood vessels in my eyes. My eyes were so blurry from straining so hard that I really couldn't see very well at all for a few hours.

I always thought that pushing only took like 20 minutes, but I wound up pushing for 2 hours and later learned that it is a fairly normal amount of time. Mandy brought out a dog tug-of-rope toy and every time I would have a contraction, mom and Rich would each grab a knee and a foot to hold my legs back, and Mandy and I would tug on the toy. It sounds crazy but that pulling motion really helped me to push harder. The funny thing is mom just thought she'd be in the waiting room, she didn't know she'd be such an active part of the labor team:) There was a point with the really strong pushes where it stopped being a conscious effort and my body would take over and push by itself. Sort of like if you try to make yourself throw up, then once you get that good gag reflex your body takes over and vomits by itself...gross I know, but that's the best way I can explain it. I was getting SO tired, but I knew there was no stopping or resting now.

Lucy's heart rate started dropping with the pushes and contractions so they put me on an oxygen mask and had me roll onto my left side to push. It was a more awkward pushing position but it helped her get more oxygen and her heart rate to recover. After a while her heart rate stopped recovering and was staying low and I was getting very anxious about it. I could hear her hearbeat on the monitor and would just try to will it to speed back up. It worked a few times, but then it stopped speeding back up. I pushed harder and harder and stopped resting between pushes, but she just wasn't coming out. I could actually feel the top of her head come out with a push, then slip back in as I stopped, over and over and over I felt like I was working so hard to push the same little bit of her head out again and again. Finally the doctor told me that we had to get her out now, and that she needed to cut an episiotomy. I had really hoped to avoid this, and she knew that, so I knew she wouldn't suggest it unless it really had to be done so I told her of course, do whatever you need to do. Mandy thankfully told Rich not to watch, but I could still hear it and it is an awful sound. She did give me a shot of local anesthetic before so it didn't hurt at all. One more push and her head was out. I sighed and relaxed then the doctor reminded me that I only had her head out, that we had to keep going. One more big push and her shoulders popped out and then I felt the single most incredible thing I've ever felt in my life...the slide and gush as her body slipped right out of me and into the world. That is a sensation I don't think I will ever forget. I have never been more relieved or more physically, mentally or emotionally fatigued.

I started saying "I want my baby, I want my baby" over and over. I wanted her on my chest immediately but her cord was short, so the had to go ahead and clamp it. Rich cut the cord, then they put her on my chest, in all her bloody, slimy gooey glory. I kissed her head and thought, Eww that's gross but I didn't care. She was pretty purple, I guess from the decreased blood and oxygen flow she had been getting. She let out some weak little cries, but the nurses were concerned because she wasn't crying loudly. They took her from me over to the warmer a few feet away and gave her some oxygen. Rich was able to be right there with her. Meanwhile, my doctor sewed me up and I remember saying "Ouch" and she said "Oh, well I thought I used enough lidocaine.. only a couple stitches left." Then we were waiting on my placenta to be delivered. After the baby comes out, the placenta will detach from the uterus and then comes out. But like everything else about the experience, this didn't happen as it should. She tugged the cord, I pushed but still no placenta. Apparently my uterus is just a really hospitable place. So she had to manually get it out. I couldn't see exactly what she did, but based on how it felt I think she reached her hands in there and scraped it all out. I yelled louder then that I did at any point during the labor or delivery. Holy sh!$ that hurt!!!!

Finally I was sewed up, cleaned up and empty of both baby and placenta. Lucy was cleaned up and breathing well. And then were were alone, well Mandy was still there. Mom left to go make phone calls and the doctors and nurses had all cleared out. Mandy tried to help us with breastfeeding but I think both Lucy and I were too exhausted then to give it our best effort. I was so weak that I honestly could not hold her up without propping her on a pillow. After an hour or so, Mandy left and Rich, Lucy and I were alone for the first time as our new family of three. Then Rich and Lucy went to the nursery for some of her follow-up exams and a bath. I ate lunch and took a shower.

We moved from the Labor and Delivery room to a postpartum room, Rich's mom and stepdad showed up a few hours later and my dad got here the next morning. It was wonderful having them all there and knowing how loved our little baby was already. We spent two nights in the hospital, and kept Lucy in the room with us the whole time. We came home last Wednesday the 19th.

Now she is 11 days old and all the family is gone except for my mom. She's staying another week or two to help with the baby/dogs/housework. Rich is back to work, and I'm just trying to get the hang of newborn care. We are really doing great, she sleeps pretty well, nurses well and we are completely smitten with her. She looks just like her Daddy, not a thing like me...after all that work she could at least look a little like me ;)

If anyone ever happens to read this who is looking for a doula in the Charleston, SC area, I cannot recommend Mandy enough. Her name is Mandy Reimer of Rite of Passage Doula and she is exceptional. I couldn't have achieved my goal of a natural birth without her support and knowledge. Or if you're just considering natural birth and/or a doula, DO IT. The feeling of accomplishment and pride in your body is similar to crossing the finish line of a race, only much much more powerful.

In hindsight, I think I instinctively knew before I ever even went into labor that she was positioned funny and that I was going to have a long, hard labor although I couldn't have imagined the reality of it. I know this is the longest birth story ever, but I wanted to be able to look back and have as much of it documented as I could remember. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. As they say, in the end it was all worth it and I would do it again in an second if that's what it took to get this baby in my arms.

This is when I initially started pushing in the backwards facing, over the bed position.

Catching my breath between contractions.

Pushing, I seriously thought my eyeballs were going to explode.

FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There's my baby girl!!! The first time I laid eyes on her.

Getting checked out to makes sure she was breathing ok, notice she's a little purple and pale.

Now she's nice and pink. Holding Daddy's hand.

The proud papa.

This was my first good look at her after she was cleaned up a little and worked on by the nursery team.

She has really long toes and feet, like both Rich and I do.

Her great grandma got her this outfit to wear home from the hospital so we decked her out in it, bonnet, bloomers, frilly socks and all. :) The shoes she has on are some of my newborn shoes.

We're home!

THE END, and the beginning

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lucy's Birth Story: Part 3 (pics at the end)

This part of the story starts with us arriving at the hospital at midnight Sunday night/Monday morning after laboring at home since Saturday night. They paired me up with a phenomenal nurse who likes working with natural childbirth mamas, and put me on the monitor to check my contractions and to make sure Lucy was doing ok. I thought I wouldn't like laboring in the hospital, but honestly it was nice because I liked knowing that every hour or so I would get monitored and get the reassurance that the baby was tolerating labor well. My nurse checked me and I was 5cm dilated, 90% effaced and baby was at a -1 station. Basically that means that I had made progress, but still had a ways to go. Typically the first 5cm takes the longest, then the 2nd 5cm goes pretty quickly so I wasn't discouraged about only being at 5cm. The thought of asking for an epidural flitted through my mind but never seriously, because I thought that I only had to get through a few more hours before the baby was born.

About 1:30am I got in the bathtub, and Rich sat in the bathroom with me and we played our running playlists on the Ipod. For some reason listening to Eminem sing Shake That was working for me at that point in labor. After the tub, I was back on the monitor again, then we walked lots of laps around the Labor & Delivery floor, did lunges in my room, and rocked on the birth ball until 5am when I was checked again. 7cm and 100% and still at a -1 station. I was a little discouraged to have only progressed 2cm in 5 hours but again I thought "Ok, only 3 to go, it surely can't take too long." Haha. By about 7:30, my contractions were getting longer and stronger and I was starting to get really tired, both physically and emotionally. Then Mandy started some acupressure and gave me some homeopathic herbs to help increase contractions.

At 8:30, 8 1/2 hours after arriving at the hospital, my doctor checked me again and I was at only 1 cm progress in 3 1/2 hours. The baby had moved down to 0 station, and she was able to feel her head and tell that she was not lined up properly. She was right occiput posterior, basically in there with her head at a diagonal like in this diagram. That malposition was the reason for my long, painful labor. My water hadn't broken, so we decided to have the doctor go ahead and break it in hopes of speeding things up. It was painless, just a pop and a gush. I said "Ewww" when I felt it. I was terrified of the post-water-breaking contractions, but also felt like it was the best decision. We immediately went out to the hall to walk some more, and the contractions were much stronger. By 9am I felt like I couldn't walk anymore so I moved to a side-lying position in the bed to try to use gravity to encourage her to rotate into the right head position. This was one of the most excruciating points, laying still in bed there's no way to move to cope with the ctx. I started to go into what I can really only describe as a trance or self-hypnosis of some sort. Rich said that the more painful the ctx, the quieter I became. I completely turned inward and he said I went for like an hour and a half without really opening my eyes or doing much more than moaning and breathing. At some point we moved from the bed back to the birthing ball. I don't remember anything specific about this time period. I know it was awful awful pain and I wanted to escape it but there was no way to do that. At 10:15 we moved to the shower, and as soon as I sat down on the bench in the shower I had a powerful contraction and an involuntary urge to push. They called for my nurse and moved me back to bed. She checked me and I was 9 1/2 cm dilated and they were going to let me start pushing.

38 hours down, 2 more to go!

Rich was an amazing support for me.

Zoning out on the birth ball...Rich getting his fuel in:)

I have no idea how I'm smiling here. This is at 8cm after having my water broken and having very strong contractions.

Laboring is HARD work!

My mom was there for support as well, for me and Rich!

This one was during the trance state, I don't remember this time at all. This was right before moving to the shower and feeling the need to push.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lucy's Birth Story: Part 2

We had a wonderful day on Saturday (May 15th). That weekend was the last weekend before my due date (May 31st) that Rich and I were both off work together, so we made plans for it to be our last fun couple day before baby. We got up and went to a spa for a couple's massage, which was fantastic. The massage table had a big hole for my belly to fit in. After the massage we went to the beach for a few hours and layed out, read, walked and just enjoyed some quiet time together. Then later that night we went out for a nice dinner in downtown Charleston, the first fancy dinner date we'd been on in months. I had scallops with lobster risotto and coconut cake, and Rich had a filet and a chocolate orange dreamcicle dessert. We also had some nice red wine, just a glass for me of course. I tried to put on heels to go out in, but my feet didn't fit into any of them so I wore rhinestone flip flops with my black dress:) I had a couple of contractions during dinner that were slightly more intense than the usual Braxton Hicks tightening, but didn't think too much about it. We got home and I began to have more and more, about every 15 minutes apart. I tried to go to bed around 9pm but the contractions kept waking me up, then I would just lay awake waiting on the next one. They were strong enough that I would have to focus on breathing to relax during them. After 3 hours, I got Rich up and we decided to go outside and walk. Walking helps to make the contractions more regular, and also just the movement is soothing and contractions (ctx from here on) are actually much more bearable when I was up and moving like that than laying in bed. After the walk, I got in the bathtub for an hour or so because the warm water is also very therapeutic and helps relieve the ctx pain. I was able to read between ctx in the tub, then just focus on deep relaxing breaths during them. Throughout the night they continued to get closer together, albeit slowly, and by morning they were about every 7-9 minutes apart and lasting between 30 seconds and about 2 minutes. I expected them to go away in the morning the way they had the night before and Wednesday before. They didn't go away, although they did space back out and almost disappear from about 5am-7am and we slept then. After I woke up with more ctx, we decided that maybe this was going to turn into something real so we called our doula, a wonderful woman named Mandy. My plan was to have a natural (unmedicated) labor and induction, no pitocin, no epidural or IV meds.

Her website explains exactly what a doula is, but basically it is someonewho serves as a labor helper, coach and support person. It is not the same as a midwife in that a doula is not a medical professional and doesn't do things like deliver babies or perform monitoring or cervical checks. We had met with Mandy for a few prenatal visits and the plan was for her to come to our house and labor with us, help us decide when it was time to go the hospital, provide massage, acupressure and aromatherapy, and just in general to be there for Richard and I in whatever way we might need during labor.

Mandy suggested trying to take some benadryl and get some rest in case this was the beginning of real labor, and to keep laboring using walks, baths and breathing, and to call her back when contractions were about 5 minutes apart and we were ready for her to come over. I didn't want to be groggy so I only took half a benadryl, and it did nothing so I wound up taking the other half but it still didn't help me sleep at all. I was so excited, nervous and focused on relaxing thru ctx that I really wasn't able to sleep. We spent the day alternating between laying in bed, in the bathtub and shower, and walking the neighborhood. I think the neighbors thought I was going to squat on the streetcorner and deliver the baby right there...we got some funny looks since I was obviously in pain as we were walking. I don't think even at this point that I really believed I was in labor since the same thing had happened a few times before and ended up going away, although it had never lasted this long. We had called my mom that morning and she decided to go ahead and fly out, and if I had her then great and if not she would just be here with us until I did. I still really thought it would stop and I would be pregnant still today. By midafternoon I began to think maybe this was really happening as ctx got closer together and more powerful. About 5:30 or so we went for a walk and ctx got to less than 3 minutes apart and Rich got pretty freaked out and made us go straight back to the house. We called Mandy and said it was time and she said she'd be there in about 45 minutes. We spent the next 45 minutes walking around the downstairs of our house, more like shuffling actually, with Rich right behind me to hold onto me and rub my back whenever I would stop for a ctx. I was getting pretty scared about everything but when Mandy showed up with her bag of tricks, I was able to refocus and relax. I had read several books on natural birth, and I knew that I had to be prepared to relax and embrace pain when everything in my body would want to fight and run from it. I just kept reminding myself that this was pain with a purpose, not pain that was hurting me in any permanent way and that I had a set number of ctx that I would have to go through to get my baby and I could either dread and fear them or welcome and embrace them. I think I even chanted "welcome" during a lot of them, at least in my head, as a reminder that welcoming the pain and intensity of the ctx was necessary in order to get to the end result of that baby in my arms.

After Mandy arrived, we discussed the fact that baby Lucy was likely malpositioned (not in the desirable position of head down with her face towards my back) and that she was probably facing sunny-side up with her head towards my back which can cause longer, more painful labors that don't progress as quickly as expected. There are certain positions you can labor in to encourage babies to rotate into the better postion so we tried those, including laying on the ground on my elbows and knees with my booty in the air, climbing stairs two at a time, doing side lunges, and rocking on the birth ball (just a regular exercise ball). Let me tell ya, lunges and stairs are NOT what I felt like doing in that moment, but also if you want unmedicated childbirth you gotta do whatever you can to try to get labor progressing naturally to avoid having drugs to help you progress. Mandy would also massage my lower back during ctx which was very helpful by providing counter pressure to the internal back pain I was having.

This walk, bath, lunge, stairs, ball, rotation continued until midnight when my Mom arrived. We hadn't talked to her in hours so she had no idea that I was actually in active labor and she showed up ready to go to bed, but instead we said "thank goodness you're here, we're heading to the hospital." At this point ctx were consistently 5 minutes apart, about a minute long, and very painful in my back and lower abdomen. So at this point, it's midnight Sunday night and been about 28 hours since contractions had started and we hadn't really slept since Friday night.

Whew, ok that's enough for part 2!
Here's a pic of her about 3 days old.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lucy's Birth Story: Part 1

Monday May 10th I had my 37 week OB appointment and I was 1.5-2cm dilated and 50% effaced. My blood pressure had crept up a little bit, but not so much that I had to be on bedrest or that the doctor wanted to induce labor. They monitored me to make sure Lucy was doing ok, and I was having painless Braxton Hicks contractions every 5 minutes. That happened for a few hours then they died out. She had me come back Wednesday the 12th for a follow-up on my blood pressure and monitoring, and I wasn't contracting at all. However, later that night I started having "real" contractions that were painful and required focus and breathing to get through. They got as close as 3 minutes apart for almost 45 minutes, then spaced back out to 5, 10 and 15 minutes apart before finally going away after a few hours. I started losing my mucus plug Wednesday and continued to lose it over the next few days. Oh, and why must it be called a mucus plug? That term is so gross it makes me cringe...why not something like "cervical stopper" or "baby cork??" Thursday came and went with no major bouts of contractions so I thought Wednesday had been a fluke...but then the same thing happened Friday night only they were a little stronger and more painful, but still went away after a few hours and I was able to sleep well the rest that night. Little did I know that it would be my last night of sleep for a long, long time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Baby Lucy is here!

Lucy Susannah Morris, born Monday May 17, 2010 at 12:20pm.
7lbs 1oz 19 1/2 inches long, born at exactly 38 weeks after 2 false starts followed by 38 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing. I made it without drugs, thought I was going to die, have broken blood vessels in my eyes from pushing but she is here and perfect! I'll post a long birth story later for anyone who wants all the gory details, and there are many. We are home and getting settled in and trying to figure out this parenting thing.

Posted by Picasa