Thursday, December 5, 2013

Three Birth Stories

It is so fun to hear all of the birth experiences a woman has in one place.  Birth is a humbling event- kind of the ultimate teaching moment in our lives.  I love these three different (but similar) birth stories from one mom.  Sending her good birth vibes for her fourth, coming soon!

We have had 3 hospital births. I would love a home birth someday, but my husband is not on board with this and arguing only makes it worse. We are incredibly blessed to have great hospitals in the Pacific Northwest, and for the most part, I have been able to have the births I want. There is definitely some working of the system that has to be done. 

First birth

I had a midwife appointment in the morning 10 days after my due date. There were tiny little mentions of induction, but I wasn't worried about that yet. I was hooked up to a contraction monitor and they told me I was contracting every 10-15 mins. I was shocked - I couldn't feel a thing. I went back to work to wrap up a few things, and the contractions got stronger and closer together, but still not overly uncomfortable. 

That evening I tried to relax every part of my body as much as possible and not fight the waves of pressure and pain. My husband laid down with me and would rub my back during every contraction. We went in to the hospital around 10 pm, and continued to labor in a beautiful tub suite with one of my midwives. I was anxious to get in the water, but she encouraged me to wait until things got really unbearable, maybe around 7 cm to avoid slowing labor down. Finally that time arrived, and the water brought such relief. My mom was there and played soothing music and fed me ice chips. She also guarded the doors and kept an overall atmosphere of peace. 

I enjoyed the water, but things also got more intense. Really intense. The midwife checked me and said I was ready to push. I didn't feel ready at all!! We waited a little while and then tried a few different positions in the tub, finally settling on bracing my legs up against the side. After 20 mins of pushing, my son was born around 3 am! I had a second degree tear that needed stitching, probably from bearing so hard against the sides of the tub. The stitching was the most painful part.

Second birth
17 months later we were back. It was a week before my due date. Labor had progressed in a very similar fashion although a little faster this time. We got checked in to a different tub suite this time, in a wing of the hospital where no other births were happening. After doing my required 30 mins on the baby monitors(after that I am free to roam), the nurse didn't think my contractions were strong enough, but she said she would keep it quiet for now and let me stay. 

At exactly 1 am she checked me and I was 5 cm. I settled in mentally for many hours of labor. Suddenly I felt a pop and a gush - my water had broken! I hadn't felt it with my first because I was in the tub. The nurse said she would come over in a min to double check. I had one normal contraction. Then I had a contraction that was about 5 times the intensity and pain. I flipped onto my side on the bed. I made it through and asked them to start the tub because I couldn't take many more like that one. Just a few seconds later I had another contraction from hell, and near the end as I gripped the sides of the bed rail, it sort of occurred to me that I was pushing. I said "I think I'm pushing" and the nurse again said she would come over and take a look. My mom took a quick peek between my legs and yelled "I see a head full of hair right here!!!" The nurse finally came over, took one look and started yelling down the halls, "I need a baby nurse!!" But there was no stopping it at this point. I just tried NOT to push for a minute, and then my daughter was born at 1:15 am, just 15 min after I was checked at 5 cm! The hospital had never even called my midwife because they weren't sure I was I labor yet. No tears this time, just a skid mark which I decided not to stitch.

Third birth
My third labor was 4 years later and it took a different path. I started contracting in the morning and continued all day. But they didn't follow any sort of pattern. I would have one really difficult contraction and think "okay, this really is labor!" And then nothing for 15 mins. All day it was like that - they never got consistently stronger and closer together. My husband came home around 4 pm, and I remember crying a little bit. After two straightforward and good labors, I had been telling people that labor doesn't really hurt, it's just "work." But now I had started to remember that it does actually hurt, and I was humbled. 

At this point I still wasn't quite sure if this was real labor or not. I thought there might be a chance everything would just stop and it might be another few days. (I was a week after my due date at this point.) But my husband thankfully knew better and called my Mom and Gramma to come over just in case (they live an hour away). The plan was for Gramma to stay with the kids and my mom would follow us to the hospital. When they arrived at our house, I remembered being really irritated at them both. That should have been a sign as my Gramma is the sweetest woman in the whole world. I had started to feel a little nauseous and decided I should call the midwife and see if they thought I was in labor. The midwife said I should probably start thinking about coming in. Just after I got off the phone, POP - my water broke. I was absolutely horrified. This HAD been real labor, and now all I could think about was the 15 mins from water breaking to birth with my last child. I threw on a Depends ran around the house grabbing things and we took off for the hospital 20 mins away. 

Despite intensely powerful contractions that were making me bear down, we somehow made it to the hospital. We checked in to the ER as they require with all births (labor suites are on the top floor) while my Mom parked the cars. The check-in lady was a little irritating. Only after 5 minutes of asking us stupid questions that we had already answered in preregistration did she finally ask "do you have to push?" YES I HAVE TO PUSH. So then I was required to go in to the ER to be checked before they would let me go upstairs as they had had an elevator baby a few years back. The ER "room" (curtained area) was a far cry from my dimly lit birthing suites of the previous labors. There were probably 10 people in the room who just watched as I struggled to get out of my adult diaper and onto the bed; no one helped. "Where is my midwife?" I asked. She was with another birth and an OB would come and check me. A young Dr. walked into the room and proudly announced that he delivered 5 babies last year. This did not provide the reassurance he might have intended (I later found out he was not an OB, but an ER doc, and 5 babies was a lot for him.). I was checked and yes, the baby was well on his way down the birth canal, so I would have to give birth in the ER. 

Thankfully the labor and delivery nurses from upstairs arrived. They were like angels from heaven. One them got right down in my face and held my hand and provided comfort. The midwife came shortly after that, and I was so thankful to see her - she just took charge of the room. Again I didn't have to push the baby out, it was more like seeing how long I could hold the baby in so as to give my body a little time to stretch. The crowning was more uncomfortable than it was ever been, it felt like the midwife was sticking her hand in. Of course it wasn't the midwife, but the baby who had his hand up on his face. My mom made it in from parking just in time to see birth. There was a lot of bleeding this time, and the midwife had to manually pull out a bunch of clots which really felt terrible. I did have to get stitched, but this time it didn't hurt at all.

I am now expecting my 4th and we will probably go to the hospital way too early. If we do wait too long again, my midwives have promised to help me bypass the check-in desk and get me to a room right away. Instead of worrying about slowing progress, this time I am going to get in the tub right away in hopes of slowing the descent so as to have less bleeding afterwards.

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