Thursday, March 29, 2012

Our Birth Story

I can hardly believe that Coco is six months old today, but it's true! So it's about time I shared our birth story.

I went into labor the morning of September 28th. I woke up with a familiar feeling. It was exactly like the first day of my period. Exactly! I was having mild contractions every six to ten minutes. They felt exactly like temporary menstrual cramps and I didn't find them painful. I had a doctor's appointment anyway, so I  headed her way on the tram. I felt peaceful and calm like I was wrapped in a big piece of gauze. I didn't like being around other people so I sat in a secluded seat on the trams and bus. But by the time I arrived in my doctor's office, the contractions had stopped.

Dr. Manneh did an exam and told me that I was dilated to one centimeter. Then she did a stretch and sweep, which really hurt! She followed that up with a quick ultrasound which revealed that my placenta had called it quits and was developing calcium deposits, and that the amniotic fluid levels were low. Prognosis: the baby had to be born by the evening of October 1st.

Looking back, I should have just gone about my life in a relaxed state, because four days is a long time and the labor probably would have progressed just fine on its own. But, I had read too many books and was convinced that the entire healthcare institution was out to ruin my birth experience through induction, intervention and caesarean section, so I went into a bit of a tizzy and started doing everything I could to get things moving along. I took an hour long walk, then I met J and we went for lunch where I ate spicy food. After that we had sex, took a long nap and topped the day off with a brisk 11- mile hike. Yes. Eleven miles at a vigorous pace up a steep hill at 40 weeks, 4 days pregnant!

I think I managed to get two hours of sleep before the contractions became really strong. I labored on my own for a little while. Then I called my mom for a bit. Finally, at 3 am when the contractions were 5 minutes apart and so strong I couldn't talk during them, I called Nicole, our doula, to come over. She stayed with me and we let J sleep until about 7. All throughout I was moving around, pretty upbeat and coping well. After J woke up and the sun came out, I was getting tired. I took a shower and managed through all of the contractions on my own thanks to the best labor tip I had: blowing raspberries. I felt like a horse, but it worked! They were coming quite close together by this point. I got dressed and Nicole blew my hair dry for me. Then the contractions seemed to be right on top of each other with only a minute in between. I started crying. Labor was so much more painful than I ever imagined it would be. Let me say that again: Labor was so much more painful than I ever imagined it would be. It was all lower back labor. I could feel nothing in the front at all, but in my lower back was the worst agony I've ever experienced. Nicole called and spoke with the midwives at the hospital. She was sure I was going into transition. I knew I wasn't. In fact, I was pretty sure it wasn't even working, but I was no longer comfortable. I was afraid of the pain and I wanted to go to the hospital. So we went.
After we checked in, the midwife did an internal exam and I was only at 2 centimeters. I would have cried, but I was way too exhausted for that. She hooked me up to the monitor and said that the contractions were good and strong and that we wanted three like that in every ten minute period. I was so disheartened. Somehow I knew it wasn't progressing or working properly. 

After six more hours of labor, the midwife finally called the doctor in. I was still at 2 centimeters and there was something about the positioning of the baby that wasn't quite right. 

"We're going nowhere" I whispered to her when she arrived. I was so exhausted I could barely talk. As they whisked me out of the bath and into another room for an ultrasound, I saw the elevator I had arrived in. I actually thought to myself for that brief moment that I didn't need a baby anymore, that I could just go home and go to bed!  

The ultrasound showed that the baby was stuck in the birth canal and coming down ear first. This meant that the head was not in contact with the cervix. Every. Single. Contraction had been wasted. I thought the doctor would surely say I had to have a caesarean and at that point, and I would have said, "Yes! This must end!"

But she didn't.

She said we had a new plan: an epidural, Oxytocin and Buscopan. "Yes!" I practically shouted and I was off down the hall to the birthing room for my epidural. J and Nicole had to leave the room for the epidural. It was just me, the anesthesiologist, her assistant and the midwife. It was not easy to stay still during the epidural insertion, even with the drugs they had given me to slow the contractions. The assistant and midwife were amazing and held my hands while they helped me through it. Soon it was in, and working, and I have never, ever in my 32 years experienced relief like that. Thank God for that epidural!

Dr. Manneh explained that I would sleep on my right side for 20 minutes, then my left side for 20 minutes and so on to see if we could get the baby to straighten out. Just before she left me to sleep, she held my hand and said, "Be optimistic." I felt so defeated, but something about the way she said it, I found a little ounce of strength left somewhere inside of myself. I took it to heart and promptly fell asleep. It was absolute heaven.
Soon the midwife checked me and smiled and told me the baby had straightened out and was in position! She helped rotate me to the other side and the next time she checked me she saw that my water had broken and I was ready to start pushing. It was hard to believe.

I pushed for about 40 minutes. Dr. Manneh held one leg, Nicole the other. J held my hand and helped me lean into the pushes during contractions. Between contractions, I breathed. Slowly. Deeply. Sending as much oxygen and love as I could to my baby as it wiggled and squirmed and made its way down the birth canal. We were all intensely focused. And so filled with joy! When the head crowned, I got to reach down and feel it. There was so much hair and it was all a bit surreal. When the head was half way born, I could see it just sticking out with the bones all overlapped. It was so sci-fi! Once the head was out, we waited for the next contraction. I was really in a pushing groove and it was almost a surprise when voila! The baby was born and right there in front of me. Oh what a relief! It was 10:21pm September 29th.

The midwife began to wipe the baby clean and Dr. Manneh said gently, "Nein. Auf die Mama," and she placed the sweetest little bundle of joy right on my chest. I could see the baby's little tongue vibrating wildly inside that darling, tiny, crying-so-loudly mouth! Ooohhhhh!
Talk about pure magic. I've never experienced anything like it in my life. Tiny nose, tiny fingers, tiny ears, all so sweet and complete, just like that. I looked at Dr. Manneh, finally, and asked, "Well is it a girl or a boy?!" She just said, "Look!" 

I lifted up the slimy umbilical cord and was blown away to see it was a girl! I had wanted a girl so badly all throughout the pregnancy. I'm glad we waited to find out because it honestly took the full nine months for me to finally be happy with the idea of a boy. I know I would have been just as happy to have a baby boy. But, there she was, my baby girl! 
I didn't shed one tear and neither did J. The only way I can explain it is that we were beyond tears, in a state of total euphoria. Nothing could be so awesome as giving birth and meeting that tiny person for the first time.

3 comments:

  1. love it, you totally captured the child birth experience!!!!!Clare xxx

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Clare! It's a little scary sharing something so intimate. I'm glad you liked it. <3

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  2. So, beautiful, Lindsey! Thanks for sharing!

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