Thursday, November 16, 2017

Vienna's Birth Story

I woke up around 3 am Tuesday morning with some cramping.  It was a constant dull ache and reminded me of the cramps I'd feel during my period.  I put a hypnosis track on and went back to sleep.  I woke up Tuesday morning and still had the cramps but wasn't sure if it was really going to progress into anything or not.  I worked from home and told my boss that things might be getting started.  At some point during the day, the cramping became less constant and turned into waves (aka contractions).

Around 6 pm, I believe I lost my mucus plug and I texted my doula Keli that my waves had been building in intensity but they were still not unbearable.  I ate a big 1200 calorie pot pie from the freezer for dinner which would end up being my last meal before delivery.  We timed the contractions around 8 and they were super inconsistent and I was still talking through them.  Keli said to try and get some sleep, so we went to bed around 10 pm.  I was feeling excited, but still wasn't sure if the waves would taper off and this would end up being a practice run.

I think I got some sleep but not really and around 1 am I got out of bed to labor around the house.  I was leaning over my birthing ball and timed them again for about an hour.  They were lasting over a minute but still very inconsistent coming between 4 and 7 minutes.  Around 2:30, I wanted to take a bath and then found out our tub doesn't hold water, epic fail.  I got in the shower and the hot water felt great on my back and belly.  Getting out really sucked and I spent some time hanging out on the bathroom floor.  Finally at 3:30 I woke Dave up for some support.

Dave timed my waves and they were over a minute long but still coming very inconsistently between 2 and 7 minutes and I was drifting off to sleep between waves.  Dave texted Keli at 5 am with an update and I believe I spoke on the phone with her at this time.  It's all kind of hazy looking back!  I think she recommended I eat something, knowing that I would need the energy later.  I got out of bed around 7 and tried to eat a banana.  I got halfway through and immediately threw it up.  Dave kept offering me Gatorade, which I would drink sips of periodically, to get some extra calories in.  Keli suggested another shower, so I got in for a little while, but soon got out and headed back to labor in bed on my side.

At 9:15 am I was struggling.  I was having trouble dealing with the waves and we were thinking maybe it was time to go to the hospital.  Thank goodness I had a doula!  I spoke on the phone with Keli so she could hear what I sounded like through my waves.  I was moaning through them a bit and trying my best to breathe and use my peace cue.  She was very assuring, reminded me to actually use my hypnosis tracks (which Dave was suggesting and I was apparently rejecting), and we stayed put.

Keli arrived at the house at 11:20 and according to Dave my whole demeanor changed.  Having her there made me feel safe and relaxed.  She just kept telling me that everything I was experiencing was normal and I finally committed to listening to my hypnobabies tracks.  I labored in bed for a while falling asleep between waves.  They were coming every 7 minutes and lasting over a minute, and sometimes even coming back to back.  Mela laid at my feet the whole time.

At some point we moved from the bedroom down to the living room.  I was switching between leaning over the ottoman and my birth ball, lounging in the chair, and laying on the floor.  I kept switching between being really warm and then suddenly wanting to be wrapped up in a blanket.  Dave, Keli, and Mela were all hanging out on the floor with me.  I had to focus during my waves, but in between we were all chatting. The hypnosis tracks were so helpful and I remember feeling like they were timed perfectly for me and saying just what I needed to hear.  Keli and Dave both kept urging me to put my headphones back in whenever I'd ditch them.

Around 5:15 pm we moved downstairs into the family room.  I was standing and swaying through my waves and I remember saying out loud "it huuurts" and "this sucks!" Keli kept reminding me that I was doing it and Dave kept offering Gatorade and water and a Clif Bar, which I managed to eat half of over a span of hours.  At this point we started talking about going to the hospital.  My goal was to try and wait as long as possible, ideally to get there when I was already 8 cm or more dilated and almost ready to push, since the less time I spent in the hospital the less likely I would be to receive intervention.  Keli suggested waiting a little longer, but also mentioned that if we went to the hospital it didn't mean that we necessarily had to check in right away.  We could walk around outside or hang out in the lobby.

I held off for as long as I could and even fell asleep between some more waves on the couch before we finally left for the hospital a little after 6.  The 10 minute drive wasn't too horrible, except when we drove through the construction right near the Paoli train station.  The road was so bumpy and it was awful!  When we arrived Keli was waiting for us, so Dave could drop me off with her and he could go park.  Immediately upon getting out of the truck my water broke!  I was excited and knew this could speed things along and Dave was super happy it didn't happen in his new toy.  I waddled to the bathroom with fluid running down my legs and was glad I had some adult diapers in my hospital bag.  My waves were pretty intense, but I decided that hanging out in the lobby sounded good and a woman was playing Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah on the piano.  I laid across a couch with my hypnotracks in one ear, enjoying the piano with my other and tried to breathe through each wave without moaning too loud and making a scene.

At 7:15 a nurse came down to the lobby to ask if I was the 7:30 induction, nope!!!!  At some point another nurse came down to urge us to check in to the maternity unit and I said no thank you.  Keli's notes said that I was birthing so calmly it looked like I was asleep.  The waves were super strong, but I just kept breathing through them.  Around 8 pm I decided it was time!

We headed up to labor and delivery and checking in sucked.  I was already preregistered, but standing there for even a short bit of time was awful.  I had to sign a few things and I just remember scribbling something that barely resembled my signature on each one.  At 8:22 pm we arrived in the birthing room and I immediately threw up.  I changed into the hospital gown and they started checking my blood pressure and monitoring the baby.  My birth plan called for intermittent monitoring but apparently the baby's heart rate wasn't consistent and I had high blood pressure, so suddenly I was stuck with the blood pressure cuff strangling my arm every few minutes and super tight straps across my belly.  At first I didn't realize that I was now on board for constant monitoring and I kept asking the nurse when the straps on my belly were coming off.  They were so tight and I was so annoyed by them.  Keli didn't seem super concerned with the blood pressure numbers or the baby's heart rate and we kept asking the nurse if it would be possible for me to get a break and labor in the shower for a short period of time, but she said no.

At 9 pm I was checked for the first time and thankfully part of my birth plan was not to hear the numbers, because after laboring for over 24 hours... I was only 4 or 5 cm dilated, 70% effaced, and at a -1 station.  I would've been so defeated!  And thank God we didn't head to the hospital any earlier (like at 9 am when we originally wanted to go) because I definitely would've been sent home or I would've gotten stuck at the hospital for hours "failing to progress" and probably ending up with pitocin.  I was also super glad I denied any cervical checks during my OB appointments because they were terrible.  It felt like the nurse stuck her whole hand inside of me and twirled it around.  And laying flat on my back was my least favorite position.  I was still mostly laboring on my side at this point, every time I tried a different position, kneeling over the back of the bed, standing, sitting on the birth ball, I vetoed it quickly.

Around 9:50 pm I felt a ton of pressure in my bottom and started to feel like I needed to push.  I felt like I wanted to poop the baby out, but without telling me how undilated I was the nurse just said that I was not allowed to push and to breath the contractions away.  This felt impossible.

At 11:15 pm I was checked again and still didn't want to know my numbers.  I was now at 8 cm, 90% effaced, and at a +1.  Keli told me I was getting close and was very excited about the positive change.  The waves were getting stronger and stronger and I felt like I was pushing with each one, even though I was not supposed to be.  It was super frustrating that I was forced to deny my natural urges.  On top of that, my blood pressure was still high so they wanted a urine sample to make sure I didn't have preeclampsia, but I could not pee!  The baby's head was so low that peeing was impossible.  I went to the bathroom at least three different times, desperately trying to pee, but I just couldn't.  I'm pretty sure I pooped a little in front of Dave at this point but I was way beyond the point of embarrassment, I was just trying to hang in there with my waves.  At 11:55 pm, the nurse put in a catheter and drained my bladder, which was uncomfortable but I was glad to have it done and my urine sample came back negative for preeclampsia.

I was still fighting through every wave by trying not to push, but it was pretty inevitable.  Looking back I know I was pushing my baby down into the right position.  At 12:30 I was considering getting checked again and Keli kept urging me to just wait a little while longer (to avoid the disappointment of not being complete).  Finally I decided I didn't care, I needed to know where I was at and wanted to be checked again.  At 12:58 pm, I was finally at 10 cm!  And the baby was at a +2 station, so she was super low.  At this point my blood pressure was also deemed normal, so I avoided the medication they were considering.

I started pushing at 1:18 am.  I decided I wanted to push on my knees leaning over the back of the bed, since that position made me feel super pushy while I was laboring.  I remember feeling kind of frustrated that my waves had slowed down, but Keli pointed out that this was a positive thing because I had time to rest.  It felt good to push with each wave, whatever felt right to me, and I was smiling between pushes.

Eventually the baby's head was getting low and the doctor finally came in.  They asked me if I wanted to reach around and feel her head, but I wasn't into it at all.  The OB at the time was someone I met once, I barely remembered her.  When she came in, she informed that I needed to turn and that I was going to birth my baby on my back.  I was pissed.  I did not want to be in that position but she insisted that it was the only way she could support my perineum.  I'm calling bullshit because I'm pretty sure that the position I was in put my perineum directly in her face and really she just wanted to do things how she's used to doing them.  We were told after the fact that 90% of the births at Paoli are done with epidurals, so I'm guessing she hasn't done many deliveries in alternate positions.  I just kept pushing on my knees and giving Keli a look that said please help me!  Her solution was to suggest pushing on my side with one leg up.  I still wasn't sold, but the staff kept urging me to turn so finally I flipped over onto my side.

I hated it.  It was way more uncomfortable and when I expressed that sentiment my OB said "you're having a natural birth, it's going to be uncomfortable."  The OB had her fingers inside of me to help things stretch which I also hated and I think I pushed her hands away at some point.  Everything was pretty hazy during this part.  I had wanted to do "mother directed pushing" like I was doing in the beginning, but when the doctor came in I just remember them telling me when to push and saying I needed to get her out!  I know the cord was around her neck, but again I'm not sure if all the urgency was medically necessary at this time or if the doctor just wanted to get things over with.  Pushing her head out was super painful, but I just kept going and felt very strong.

Finally I felt a change and asked "what was that?!" and they informed me that her head was out!  After 41 minutes of pushing, I pushed one more time and at 1:59 am Vienna Edythe Midgley was born!  They unwrapped the cord and I flipped over and they put her on my chest.  They suctioned her mouth and she cried the sweetest newborn cries.  I was in shock!  I just kept saying "oh my God!" over and over.  It was such a surreal moment.

Dave cut the cord!  A few minutes later I delivered the placenta, I think I pushed a little to help but it didn't take much for it to come out.  I felt pretty raw post birth, but I wasn't in severe pain down there and I was completely distracted by the amazing new human on my chest.  I wanted to know if I had torn or not and made a joke to the doctor about not wanting any extra stitches for Dave's enjoyment.  She didn't find my joke funny but Keli had a good laugh.  The OB said I barely tore and she could do some stitches or skip it and I told her to do whatever she thought was best.  I ended up with one stitch in the front and one in the back.  I was still stuck with the blood pressure cuff and they decided to give me some blood pressure medication (my blood pressure was completely normal every time after that).  They gave us a full hour of skin to skin with the baby before they did her measurements.  She weighed in at 8 lbs 2 oz and measured at 21.25".  Everyone immediately noticed her super long fingers and toes and I said it was the Nowak in her!  We couldn't believe she actually came on her due date!

I honestly still can't believe I did it and that she's here.  I am convinced that the techniques I learned from Hypnobabies were key for me to be able to relax through such a long intense process.  I also think that working out, being adjusted by a chiropractor, and spending a lot of time sitting on a birth ball (helping baby get into the right position) were all factors in my successful birth. And I absolutely know that I couldn't have done it without such a supportive team.  Having a doula was totally worth it and I would recommend it to every single expecting mother.  It felt great to have someone that was so experienced and natural minded in our corner.  And Keli was more than just our birth coach.  I'm not sure you can go through such a life changing moment with someone and not feel a special connection with them.

And I cannot say enough wonderful things about my husband.  Dave was such an amazing birth partner and was my rock through my entire labor.  If he was nervous at any point during the process, he did a great job hiding it from me.  He was confident and supportive and did anything he could to help make me comfortable.  And he transitioned so smoothly into his new role as Daddy.  He basically changed all the diapers in the hospital, assisted every time we attempted to nurse, cleaned and set up all the pump parts, and did every single thing to make sure we were taken care of.  Vienna and I are so lucky.
I am extremely proud of my birth and I will never forget this amazing experience that made me a mother.

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