Monday, August 27, 2012

Lev's Birth Story

As you may have figured out, much to my surprise and delight this little guy showed up three weeks early on Saturday August 11th! Motherhood feels amazing and I'm loving every single moment with him. Isn't he just perfect?!
If you're interested in our birth story just click "read more" below.
When I reached 37 weeks of pregnancy and was considered full term I was sure that my baby would being staying put for at least another few weeks. I had only experienced braxton hicks contractions once a few weeks before and was feeling completely fine. So fine that it bordered on boring. NOTHING out of the ordinary was happening and certainly nothing that would signal birth was a few short days away. We were quite prepared though. Hospital bags were packed, we had pre-registered at the hospital, our freezer was stocked with food, nursing and diapering supplies purchased, and even had a birth playlist assembled to make our hospital delivery more comfortable. All we had left to do was have our final meeting with our doula, and write out our birth plan.

Friday night was business as usual. It was another super hot summer night, we ate grilled smokies and corn on the cob for dinner, watched some star trek and had ice cream sundaes for dessert. The next morning at 6am I was woken up by feeling my water breaking. I was a bit skeptical that it had really happened, but as water continued to gush out of me as I waddled around I realized it really couldn't be anything else. I woke up Zane and had to convince him that no, I didn't just pee the bed, this was go-time. 

Initially we were both stricken with the thought of what might happen if my contractions don't start soon enough. We tried not to worry and decided to go for a walk to help move things along. As we left the house headed for our cafe I began to feel some menstrual like cramps. I didn't get too excited but knew that it was most likely a sign that things would progress on their own. Phew!
We had breakfast and coffee and took a few trips up and down a nearby flight of stairs just in case my body needed a little more encouragement. By the time we left the cafe my cramps were coming more frequently and starting to feel more like contractions. 

As we walked home we ran into our friends Jeff and Andrew who were shocked to hear our water had broken and asked when we were heading to the hospital. "Oh I don't know, maybe not until tonight or tomorrow. You never know how long these things can take", we said as we had decided we wanted to labour at home as long as possible. We made plans to meet up with Jeff in an hour or so and walk to the farmers market which is a Saturday morning ritual for us. We got home and after talking to our doula we decided it was time I got into some yoga postures designed to help the baby find the right way down. I also tried lying down to rest, and walking around when it felt right. During breaks from contractions I flipped through literature on positions for coping with pain, hoping to refresh my memory on what I should be doing.

By this point my contractions were feeling like "real" contractions and I realized there was no way I would be walking to the farmers market in my state. Jeff and his girlfriend Chelsea brought us over some fresh fruit from the market (which was so great!) but by that time my contractions were real enough that I needed some serious concentration to work through them. They left and we asked our doula to come join us as I was starting to have trouble finding coping methods for the pain. 

She arrived around 9:30am and helped me work through each contraction and helped me rest in between. Up until now we had be trying to keep track of the contractions ourselves but they were pretty all over the map. Sometimes 4 minutes apart and lasting 40 seconds, other times they were only a minute or two apart and lasting around 1 minute. I stopped bothering to monitor them once our doula was there and just let her take care of me. Zane cleaned up the house realizing that by the next time we'd be home we'd be too busy to clean up.

The contractions were starting to really tire me out (and freak me out) and I asked our doula how things were going. Was I progressing well? Is everything happening like it should? She looked at me with a sort of surprised look on her face and said "Uh, yeah. Things are progressing really well." which gave me the impression that this was perhaps an unusually fast progression. It felt good to know things were moving along quickly but it at the same time it felt like it was all happening so fast I couldn't really wrap my head around it. 

By 10:30am I felt like I had to pee (although wasn't entirely sure I would be able to) and my doula suggested sitting on the toilet backwards so I'd be in a more comfortable position in case I had another contraction. Well I did, and without realizing it I was clearly getting the urge to bear down because I let out a very "pushy" sounding grunt which immediately signalled to our doula that we needed to head to the hospital ASAP. Our friend Jeff arrived shortly to deliver us to the hospital and I climbed into the backseat backwards with my knees on the seat, butt in the air and head and arms bent over the back of the seat. Poor Jeff was probably so freaked out by having to drive a woman in active labour to the hospital and I believe he asked the doula if I was going to give birth in the car. She reassured him it wouldn't happen but had the phone number for the hospital ready in her hand in case things moved so fast I might need to push him out upon arrival. I remember in between contractions hearing giggles from within the car and wondered what on earth could be so funny at a time like this. Apparently while stopped at a red light passengers from the car next to us saw me labouring and gave an excited thumbs up!

Once we arrived at the hospital we headed into admitting only to be quickly ushered through. The first nurse I saw asked me lots of questions that I'm surprised I could even answer. I was really starting to feel like it was taking so much effort and concentration to maintain conversation between contractions. They wanted to check my dilation which was the first thing to come up that Zane and I had wished to avoid. We wanted to avoid vaginal exams at all costs and so I looked to my doula for advice. She said that truthfully the way things were headed this would most likely be the one and only exam. So they checked my cervix and I was 7 centimeters dilated. We all felt very relieved to know that we were getting so close. We were quickly sent to our delivery room where we met our nurse Amber. 

I remember at this point thinking "Ok. I'm here in the room, what sort of things could I do for my labour pains? Take a bath? Use a stability ball?" But again things were just happening so fast that all I could manage to do was lean onto the bed and push through the contractions. I moved into the bathroom and laboured for a while backwards on the toilet. Amber came in and politely asked if I would like to take the placenta home. I realized that we had never had time to write up our birth plan and so the nurses didn't know what our intentions were for anything concerning labour and birth. I felt so out of it but managed to say that no I didn't need to take it home. I could hear my doula express how impressed she was that we were even asked that at all, which was our first hint that Amber was going to be a spectacular nurse. 

Within about 40 minutes of labouring in the hospital I was ready to push and there was a flurry of activity in the room as my doctor and the nurses prepared for the baby to come. I began pushing while leaning over the upright back of the hospital bed and was told that my pushes sounded great. So I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. My contractions were surprisingly still rather far apart during this time, between 2 and 3 minutes I think, and it was quickly becoming evident to everyone that despite how quickly I had progressed in early and active labour, something was slowing me down. 

I was becoming so exhausted and very defeated. I kept thinking and saying "I can't do this. He has to come out." and my doula had husband both told me later they could practically see the words "C-Section" written on my lips. I was desperate. This was the only point that I ever thought of drugs or anything else that would help me get the baby out.
I remember around this point that I had moved to the end of the bed and was using the squatting bar to help push and my doctor and the nurses had been crouched down to watch any progress. My doctor said playfully "a watched pot doesn't boil" and that she was going to give me some privacy to push and left the room. I knew then that he wasn't coming out. Why would my doctor be willing to leave the room if my baby was anywhere near ready to come out? I felt more defeated than ever and was trying not to panic. 

By this point I had been pushing for three full hours with no progress. It was clear the baby's head was stuck. I learned later that my doctor pulled my doula aside and told her she thought I should have some pitocin (which is a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin that brings on contractions) to move things along. She wanted my doulas advice on how to bring up the subject with me, knowing that I did not want any interventions. My doula told her to just be honest and to tell me how it would help. 
When they came in and asked me about using pitocin I felt immediately defensive. It was so hard to let go of my ideas of how my birth would unfold and to surrender to having any of that kind of outside help. The nurse Amber could tell I was really conflicted about it and said that they would just wait longer until I had clearly made up my mind one way or another. So I continued pushing with no progress for perhaps another 20 minutes before giving in and asking for pitocin. I felt like the only other option was a c-section so why not try pitocin first. 

As they prepared the IV I got into position on the end of bed again with the squatting bar. They hooked me up to the IV and Zane and my doula were on either side of me wiping my brow with cold cloths and giving me drinks of water and juice between every contraction. Zane said it felt like he was a boxing coach, helping me (his little boxer) in between rounds. Hearing that analogy afterwards made me smile as it also felt like that for me. I would open my eyes briefly between contractions and there was a straw in my face to drink from and I really did feel like an athlete performing some incredible feat of strength. 

Seemingly out of nowhere during my next contraction things felt different. I expressed this and I think everyone in the room knew this meant the baby had finally moved. My contractions were suddenly coming much faster and my nurse Amber coached me through, helping me push longer, harder and closer together. I felt like I got a second wind of energy and knew there was no turning back. I powered through maybe 4 more contractions before he was out and then felt such a euphoric rush of relief.  
Despite the pain and exhaustion I had just endured I was instantly overwhelmed with pure joy and love as soon as I heard his first cries. My baby was in my arms and that was all that mattered.

It turned out that I barely had any pitocin in my system at all and that nature had taken care of the rest. Despite the struggle of pushing for three hours, I got the birth experience I had always wanted, and the baby of my dreams.
I've been telling friends that giving birth was truly the craziest thing I've ever done. It was the most physically and emotionally challenging thing I've ever done, but it was also the most amazing and incredible thing I've ever accomplished. Thank you Lev for giving me that gift. I can't wait to see in what ways you change me and my life.

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  1. this is beautiful!! thank you for sharing! xo


  2. I agree! A very personal experience, thanks for letting us share it with you!


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