November 30, 2012

Nora's Birth Story


NOVEMBER 20th, 2012
(38.5 weeks pregnant)

Just a note that this is a birth story, so I get into a little detail about birth-related things that may be "TMI" for some folks.  You've been fairly warned :)

Woke up with uncomfortable and regular contractions, plus an achey back and crampiness.  I asked Tedd to watch Ian so I could sleep some more.  He lovingly agreed :)

Awoke to the sounds of Ian's laughter echoing from downstairs; he was playing around with his Daddy. 

Having more painful contractions and they were getting close together and consistent.  I still wasn't convinced that I could actually be in labor.  (Nora wasn't due until the 30th, and despite my intuition that she would come early, I didn't want to get excited too soon about the contractions).

Called my Grammy.  I told her how I was feeling and she said she thought it sounded like today was the day.  We had plans to get together that afternoon for a "Grammy Day" with Ian, but she insisted on canceling.  She told me about how fast her labor and delivery went with her second-born and thought it would be wise to stay put.  I insisted we keep it open b/c I thought it might be a false alarm, but finally agreed to cancel our plans.  (Little did I know, I'd be pushing out a baby in just 3 short hours).  

Sneezed and felt trickling. More trickling as I moved around; "water must have broken," I thought.  Then I went to the bathroom and had the tell-tale "bloody show."  "I must be in early labor!" I thought.

Yelled down to Tedd, "I think today's the day!" And told him about my "signs of labor."

Tedd needed a moment to gather himself emotionally because our last birth experience, for us, was in part quite traumatic.  He spent a little time downstairs by himself praying and getting in a good cry.  He was excited but told me later that he was dreading watching me suffer again. 

I called our doula, who lives an hour and a half away and said stuff like "I hope I'm not crying wolf here, but..." and "I hope you don't get here and then have to wait forever, but I think I'm starting to go into labor..." etc.  She told me it sounded like I was in labor, not going into it!  I giggled and said, "well, I guess that's what I meant."  She said she'd shower up and head on over.

I called my mom to ask her to pick Ian up around one; I assured her that we probably had several hours before anything got exciting.  I figured I had all day!  Then I texted a couple of pals.

11:20 AM
I nursed our toddler down for a nap around 11:20.  This is when I realized that my uncomfortable contractions were admittedly becoming kinda...well...painful (is it obvious yet that I was in denial for quite awhile before I officially admitted I was "in labor" and having a baby? -- today? -- soon!?!)

Ian fell into a deep sleep and I went downstairs to officially "labor," moaning and clapping and bouncing in a chair to control the pain during contractions. Between contractions I scarfed down some tacos Tedd whipped up. 

12 PM
After eating my lunch, and as my contractions were getting more intense, I heard a "pop" and then felt the gush.  After having to bounce and sway through contractions, and then with my water most definitely breaking, I realized that I probably didn't have as much time as I thought I would!

I announced it to Tedd and I went back upstairs to clean off and get a hot shower - my plan was to get ready to go to the hospital, but I still had it in my mind to labor a little longer in the shower.  I didn't want to get to the hospital too soon.

I didn't go into labor on my own with Ian, so this was like my first time in a way.  I really didn't want to get to the hospital and only be at a four or something...I wanted to labor at least to a six and then be at the hospital...this was what was going on in my head.  

I had back labor with no epidural for well over 12 hours with Ian, so while my contractions were getting extreme at this point, they were still very manageable in comparison, and I kept thinking "they could still get a lot worse." 

When I went to the bathroom to strip down for my shower, I noticed that the amniotic fluid all over my clothing was stained brown. Okay, so now I'm finally finally in "get-to-the-hospital" mode.  I immediately called my mom to ask her to "get Ian now," and then hollered for Tedd so he could call our doula. She agreed that we should get on over to the hospital. We were concerned that the baby may have passed meconium.  It's about 12:30 now. 

12:30 PM
I finished my hot shower (where I might have stayed for quite awhile had we not had the concern of the meconium; the hot water made a night/day difference in managing the pain) and then attempted to dry my hair, but wound up on the floor during contractions because the pain had grown so intense. 
((One amazing advantage of laboring at home was the privacy and freedom of movement that I had to be able to cope with the pain.  I still felt in control at this point.  During the entire labor, I was in squatting or all-fours positions to find "relief," leaning over chairs or the couch. I practiced silly chants during contractions that I'd learned from when we'd planned a home birth with Ian, such as a low moaning of the word "ooopen." I kept telling myself calmly that "my body is opening for this baby to come out," to try to avoid tensing up in a ball and panicking.  I thought I could actually feel my cervix opening at certain points during the time at home.  It was also redemptive in a way that I sort of had the home birth experience that'd I'd dreamed of after all, because I was able to labor through the bulk of it at home)).
I packed our toiletries between contractions and made my way downstairs to say hey to Ian in the living room, who was now awake (from all our communicating/hollering back and forth across the house) and peacefully watching Cinderella. 

Tedd had been putting away food and getting the infant carrier out of the attic! (It was on the to-do list, but Nora was 10 days early). 

I labored right next to Ian for a few minutes, leaning over the arm of the couch, really in pain. He was humorously so mesmerized by his favorite movie that he took zero notice of my moaning and clapping. (I don't know why clapping was helpful - I suppose it was just a release of energy - something I could control).  

12:45 PM
My mom arrived. She was giddy with excitement and rubbed my back during a contraction with some juggling balls that Ian had pulled out of his toy box. Tedd said he was all ready, my mom took Ian and his pre-packed overnight bag (thank goodness that was all ready to go!!), and we got in the car to go to the hospital.  It's almost 1pm. 

In the car on our way to the hospital, I held onto the handle near the window through each contraction and in between I shared with Tedd how I felt scared and didn't want to go through this pain again.  I talked about an epidural with him and he encouraged me to make my mind up now, "while you're still in your right mind," he said.  :) I told him that I felt unsure and couldn't think through the pain at this point to make a decision.

((We'd decided to go with a doula in the first place so that I could get through labor without an epidural.  There was some concern, based on my labor with Ian and his getting stuck, that perhaps my pelvis was too small and that statistically Nora wouldn't be able to come out well either.  I decided "no epidural" so that I would have the best chance at changing positions during pushing to allow the baby the best opportunity to come out.  I was concerned that I'd be shooting myself in the foot if I was limited to the on-my-back position again with a stuck baby.))

12:55 PM
Upon arrival at the hospital, Tedd wheeled me up to labor & delivery. I could feel all eyes on me from the main lobby waiting area as I sat down on a bench and curled up through a contraction.  I managed to get through it silently. (Amazing how self-consciousness can still be so powerful, even when you're in such pain -- another reason why I think laboring at home was fantastic!)

We made it upstairs and the nurse said she remembered us!  She then asked if our firstborn was delivered vaginally or csection.  When we said "csection" she did a bit of a double take and I told her that I did not want to have a c-section.  ((I'd learned of this loophole early on in the pregnancy -- if you come into the hospital and you're already in labor, they can't technically operate on you against your will.  This was my plan all along, and my doctor was agreeable to let me wait for up to 41 weeks for the very purpose of perhaps letting me go into labor on my own. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait 41 weeks!))

As it turns out, I later found out that they were preparing for a c-section anyway, just in case.

Now for the moment of truth.  "Please at least be a six," I thought.  The pain was getting to be familiarly excruciating and I wasn't sure I wanted to hang in there for much more of it!  They checked me and I was dilated to an 8!

They called the doctor. Meanwhile Tedd went out to the car to get some things and I was praying for the strength "to just get through this next one, Lord."  I was able to keep laboring on hands and knees on the bed while the nurses gathered their things. 

1:20? PM
The doctor arrived and just in time!  My contractions were ending with that exciting yet nightmarish "huuuh" sound - my body was ready to start pushing. I felt such an urge to go to the bathroom, I begged the doctor to let me go to the toilet. She let me go, and once I was on the toilet, the dreaded screaming contractions came, followed by the involuntary pushing/heaving sensation. 

The doctor flipped out and basically yelled at me to get off the toilet immediately because I could "not be having that baby on the toilet." "Nuh-uh!  Get off the toilet!" she said. 

I got on the bed and the contractions were overwhelming, causing me to scream with agony (reminding me so much of my traumatic birth experience with Ian, where I pushed for almost 3 hours w/o the epidural - all to wind up with a c-section).  I began to feel afraid and wanted to withdrawal. I assumed it was too late for an epidural, so I didn't bother mentioning it.  Plus, I'd made it so far, and the thought of having to sit up in the bed and hold still was overwhelming...I just wanted to stay right where I was and didn't want anyone to mess with me.  (It was, in fact, too late they later told me.  They were having trouble getting my IV to stay in bc I was sweating profusely, and this would have kept me from being able to get the epidural -- things were just moving too quickly).  They put me in the stirrups and I heard the doc say "she's about to have a baby."  Those are exciting words...that's light at the end of the tunnel!  (no pun intended).

I pushed with all my might when the contractions came, and the enthusiastic encouragement from the doctor and my husband was invaluable. Their cheerleading was enough to keep me afloat.

I still felt like withdrawing, however, and would whimper (literally pouting my lip and whimpering like a 3 yr old) between contractions when I felt the next one coming, saying that I didn't want it to come back.  "But that's how you're gonna get your baby," the doc reassured me.  I was amazed at the amount of pressure I felt in my pelvis. 

After a little while longer, my husband said, "Em you're doing great!  I can see her head and she's so much further than Ian ever was." I reached down to feel and I could feel a baby's head!  I couldn't believe it. From there on out, my attitude changed. Now rather than crying at the approach of each new contraction and wanting it to stay away, I was ready to accept it and I waited calmly for the next one to come because I was ready to push my baby out of my body like I knew my body was made to do. I felt like something had been taken from me when I had a c-section with Ian, like I hadn't really "given birth," and I wanted to redeem that.  I had come to peace with it all, but now I had another chance to sort of make things right.

1:50 PM
I pushed so hard I felt like my insides would come out.  (My cheeks were speckled with broken blood vessels after the fact).  The doctor told me she wanted me to get the baby out in just a couple more pushes (she later told me that the baby's heart rate was going down, so time was running out).  I gave it one last push and felt an immense release of pressure and the incredible and miraculous sensation of my baby flying out of me!  It was AWE-SOME!

norasfirsthourI couldn't stop thanking God -- that it was over, that we had a healthy baby girl (letting out big cries and looking perfect), that I didn't get Cholestasis again, that He allowed me to have Nora naturally, that He gave me the strength to get through all the pain. All our prayers had been answered so graciously and specifically, and I just couldn't stop thanking God over and over and over again.

They handed her to me after she was delivered and I held her while the doctor started stitching me up.  (Yep.  A 4th degree tear - bummer, but worth it!)  It was so surreal, I could hardly take it in.
Nora Elizabeth (Nora means "light" or "honor," and Elizabeth means "pledged to God") came into the world at 1:52pm (almost exactly one hour after we pulled up to the front doors of the hospital!!). She weighed 8# 2oz, and was 20" long. She came ten days before her due date. She's beautiful and we feel so grateful to God for this wonderful gift!!
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