So with that, here's Eddy and my story.
The feeling of what I recognized as period cramps woke me up at 7am on Sunday morning. It also felt like I needed to poo. This is when I noticed the beginnings of bloody show. This and the contractions coupled with the fact that I practically emptied my bowels gave me the first three clues that this might be it. I got back into bed and told Shawn to "not be alarmed but something might be happening today." (He wasn't alarmed, surprisingly. Maybe he was too tired.)
The contractions continued relatively consistently and we got up an hour later after deciding that we better get ready just in case this was the real deal. We took it easy, eating breakfast, watching some TV, and Shawn cleaned the entire house... and the garage... and the chicken coop. I was more relaxed, doing this and that, cleaning the kitchen, walking around, sitting, and timing my contractions. They varied on the pain scale from a period cramp to ones that distracted me from what I was doing, and they were from a minute to two minutes long and 7 to 10 minutes apart.
This continued for 13 hours. Naturally, I started getting concerned and a little annoyed. I called the birthing center at 7pm and explained what was happening and they pretty much told me what I already knew: things might progress, they might not. It's a waiting game. At 8pm, I decided that I would give my body until 10pm to make a decision or I would take a bath and do what I could to stop or slow the contractions down so that I could maybe sleep. Apparently my body got the message, because at 8:30pm, I noticed my contractions getting stronger and coming closer together. We spent the next 5 hours timing contractions and laboring at home. I walked around, danced, rocked in a rocking chair, and labored while leaning over the ottoman to try to get Eddy into the optimum position.
At 1:30am, I couldn't take it anymore. I was in quite a bit of pain and I felt like I needed more support to get through the contractions. We called the birthing center to let them know we were on our way, grabbed our bags, and hopped in the car. Luckily in the middle of the night we got down to Capitol Hill in no time. Contractions in the car are hard.
When we got there, we were put in triage and I was hooked up to monitors. Hearing Eddy's heart beating loudly and consistently was a nice distraction from the pain. At this point I was really nervous about whether we had come to the center at the right time. I was super worried that they would tell me I was only at 2 centimeters and to go home and come back in a few hours. However, to my great relief, the nurse checked me after about 45 minutes and reported I was at 6cm! I may have cried a bit from happiness.
At this point they shuffled me next door to our room and immediately drew a bath. I got in, which felt nice, and hung out there for a few hours, breathing through progressing contractions and listening to Eddy's heartbeat on and off. They put in an IV port just in case, drew some blood, and Shawn was right there beside me, pouring water on my abdomen through each contraction. After about three hours, I decided I needed a change in position, so I got out of the tub and sat on a birth ball with my head resting on the end of the bed. I spent the next two hours laboring there, getting up once to pee and eating a banana to keep my stamina up.
I really felt like I was progressing and handling the pain quite well. The contractions got progressively tougher and tougher but Shawn helped me through each one, and the sense that it was all helping the baby move down and out was all the motivation I needed to stay calm and keep going. At about 6:30am, my midwife decided to check me again. We were optimistic. But our hearts sank a bit when she reported I was still at 6cm. She felt around my belly and decided that Eddy was presenting sideways and that was probably the reason the progressing contractions weren't helping her move down. My bag of waters was also still intact. So, to try to remedy this situation, I changed positions once again, this time kneeling on the bed with my head and arms resting on the birth ball, hoping gravity would be of assistance.
The next two and a half hours were excruciating. The contractions got stronger and stronger, and I was getting really tired. Luckily, at 7am, there was a shift change in nurses and an angel named Susan came into our lives. She saw the state I was in and immediately took on the role as a doula. She talked me through each contraction, comforting and encouraging me and letting me breathe as fast as I needed, only reminding me to keep a rhythm. She rubbed my belly and back and never left my side. I don't think either of us would have gotten through this tough time without her. Apparently Shawn was starting to panic a bit and was having a harder and harder time finding ways to help me. But he never left my side (except to drink some coffee, which I chastised him between contractions for his coffee breath, :)) despite the fact that I think I may have crushed a few of his knuckles. The part that was extra hard during these contractions was the fact that they were 5 minutes apart, but coming three at a time. They tell you that transitional contractions come every 30-60 seconds and last about a minute and a half to two minutes. Unfortunately, mine were coming five minutes apart but lasting six minutes a piece. This made the five minutes of what should have been a restful time, a period of anxiety, as I waited for the next onslaught of pain that I knew would be worse, the longer it took to come on.
At about 9:30am, my midwife checked me again. I lost it when she told me I was still at 6cm. So she started talking to me about our options. Clearly the contractions were not helping. She suggested breaking my bag of waters which would likely make the contractions stronger and closer together and more helpful. This really discouraged me because I knew I had hit my wall. The idea of stronger more painful contractions was unthinkable. I was exhausted, despite the fact that Shawn had been feeding me bananas and coconut water over the last few hours. And I knew that it would be physically impossible for me to relax my body enough to let the contractions do their work. At this point, Shawn and I made the difficult decision to say goodbye to the idea of a natural childbirth and follow the recommendation of the midwife and opt for an epidural. Once I had made the decision, I could not wait for the pain to end. Luckily, the anesthesiologist was just down the hall so he was in the room 15 minutes later and I was numb 15 minutes after that. Sitting still during a contraction was super hard, but super worth it.
There were several things that worried me about epidurals. The first was the fact that I would be bedridden because of all the tubes and things that I would be attached to, plus the fact that my legs would be numb. But I was so tired, I didn't want to get up anyway. And, my anesthesiologist was so good at his job, that I could still feel my legs to at least move around in bed. I could also feel when I was having a contraction without the pain. I think I got lucky with the perfect amount of meds placed in the perfect place. (The narcotics did make me barf a few times, but I was so high and comfortable, I didn't care.)
This is when my mom showed up. (She missed ALL the drama.) So we spent the next three hours napping, hanging out, chatting, and watching the contractions get stronger and closer together. My midwife had also broke my water (nice and clear, no signs of baby distress,) and added a tiny bit of pitocin to my IV to help things out. All these things seemed to have worked because when my midwife checked me at 1:30pm, she said "oh, the baby's head is right there! You've been at 10cm for a while now."
It was baby time! It was time to meet Eddy. Here is where Susan was again, totally clutch. Since I couldn't feel much down there, I didn't really know what muscles to use to push. But she helped me channel my energy into my stomach muscles that I could feel, which in turn helped me use my lower muscles effectively. Pushing was hard but it felt nice to be in control of something for a change. We tried several different positions for the next two and a half hours and though I was exhausted, I had a great cheer leading team in Shawn, my mom, and my sister, in addition to Susan. As soon as her head started showing, my midwife was quick to inform me that she had a head full of inch-long black hair, which we kinda already had a feeling would accompany our baby girl.
We were at the point where Eddy's head was almost out during each push when my midwife mentioned the one word I was dreading to hear: episiotomy. Though she didn't say it in any way that made me think she would suggest it soon, that was all the fire I needed to get Eddy out. I dug deep and found the extra energy and power I never thought I had left in me, and within three contractions, felt her tiny little cone head pop out. The rest of her body was soon to follow right into Shawn's gloved hands, and before I knew it, her gooey little body was resting on my chest. It was 4:07pm, over 14 hours since we first arrived at the birthing center. Needless to say, both Shawn and I were blubbering idiots at this point, so happy to finally meet Eddy in person.
It's really powerful, giving birth.
A neonatal specialist was called into the room during the last hour of pushing because Eddy's heartbeat kept going down after each contraction, but he never needed to look at her because she scored an Apgar of 9. In fact, they never took her from me until several hours later to give her a bath because she had pooped all over herself.
There were a few things people noticed as soon as she came out: her big-ass feet with long finger toes like her daddy, her crazy black hair on top of a pretty major cone head, and the fact that her eyes were wide open and frantically looking around at everybody. Granted, I was so distracted by this little person, I barely remember the third stage of labor. I'm pretty sure the placenta looked great and I only needed two stitches.
Though Eddy's birth did not go according to our birth plan, and I was not able to have the natural childbirth that I was dreaming of, I wouldn't change my experience. I felt like I did what I needed to do to keep both Eddy and I healthy, and I am happy with what I was able to accomplish. I feel like I am now part of an exclusive, (yet very inclusive) club of powerful women and I am proud.
And now we have a perfect little person to share our lives with forever.
(Did I mention taking care of a newborn is exhausting?)
|Looking directly at the camera.|
Last note: Let me talk a little bit about the Family Beginnings Birthing Center at Group Health in Capitol Hill. They are pretty amazing. I guess I can't really compare my experience to other hospitals, but we felt really well taken care of while we were there. I got to meet with a lactation specialist, Eddy was in our room with us the entire time, and all the nurses were very flexible and understanding. There was a chair that turned into a slightly uncomfortable bed for Shawn to sleep on and the food was actually pretty good too. We were kind of sad to leave the next day because the support was so great. If you are looking for a place to have a baby, I would recommend them.