Sunday, May 10, 2009

To the Generations of Mothers of the World

I have been trying to decide how to properly or best record the story of the birth of Noble. I have wonderful photos to share that almost tell the story all on their own. I have a great time table to tell the facts of what happened when and how I was feeling at each moment. I have a mirrored perspective of this experience as compared to our last experience at that hospital. And, with a few days perspective behind me, I have some thoughts and reflections I want to record about my "natural" birth experience. So bear with me in what I am sure will prove to be a rather lengthy post. I just want to get all of this recorded before it fades from my mind. If I can't finish today maybe I will do a few posts on this and put my reflections down a different way tomorrow.

Thursday May 7, 2009 8:55 a.m. - I have just gotten Sabrina off to school. I am still very pregnant. I haven't had any major contractions for a couple of days. I have been trying to kick myself into labor but nothing seems to help much except having my doctor "check" me. She is pretty rough about it and I always seem to have contractions for a day or two after she "checks" me. I am trying to decide whether to call and see if she will check me one last time and irritate my cervix in a last ditch effort to go into labor on my own and avoid having to be induced once again. I decide that the effort is worth the pain and make the call. I get a 2 p.m. appointment.

2:00 p.m. I go to my appointment where the staff is shocked to see I am still pregnant. They have already switched my chart to a "non pregnant" color because they were so sure I would have had the baby by now. I think "yeah right. me? go in on my own? I will probably still be pregnant come Sunday."

The doctor checks me and it actually doesn't hurt as bad as it has every other time. She gets wide eyes and tells me I am a 5 to 6 dilation. She says I am going to have this baby sooner than I think. I have heard that before. I discount it. She asks if I want her to irritate my cervix one more time. I figure why not? She does it again and it still doesn't hurt nearly as much as it has in the past. This time she says I am a 6 to 7 ... no I am fully a 7 and I am scaring her. She wonders how I am walking around and tells me I need to go to the hospital. She asks if I want her to break my water right there. I tell her no. I am still not really believing all this. I mean how can I be a 7? I am not even in pain. I tell her I will go home to walk some and think about it and hopefully see her tonight to have a baby.

3:00 p.m.  I call my parents, my in laws, and Jonathan to tell them the news on my way to the school to pick up the kids. Jon says "yeah right. You aren't having a baby tonight. Come home." My parents plan to head over to help with the girls. I call my friend Bari (she agreed to come act as my doula) and my friend Janelle (she is a labor and delivery nurse at my hospital and agreed to be my nurse for this birth.) They both say to stay home as long as I can, especially since I am not in pain and not having regular contractions. I tell them I will call them when I am.

I go home and pack all my last minute things for the hospital. Jon keeps wondering what the hurry is. It isn't like I am in labor. I take a bath and my parents arrive. We make dinner and watch a ball game.

5:00 p.m.  I have been home walking around my house and drinking water and eating some dinner. My contractions are hard for me to time but they are stronger and seem more frequent. My friend Janelle comes over to the house to check my cervix for me. She says I really am fully a 7 with a bulging bag of water and that I should head to the hospital. 

My dad stays with Lauren who has fallen asleep on a rocking chair watching the game. Sabrina, Annie, Jon, my mom and I head to the hospital. Janelle will meet us there.

6:00 p.m. We check in at the hospital and Janelle is there with our paperwork ready. She hooks me up to the monitors for 20 minutes. My contractions are about every 5 minutes but only one out of three is really strong. The strong ones I feel but they don't hurt. The monitor tracking their intensity records them "off the chart" intense. I find this curious and figure it must be because my water isn't yet broken. 
Here is Ann Marie very excited to finally be at the hospital to see the baby born.

After 20 minutes of monitoring, I begin walking the halls with my mom. We walk till my legs are tired (30 - 40 minutes) and then head back to the room. Janelle hooks me up with an IV lock in case I need an IV for any reason. My friend Bari heads to Target to get a birth ball for me. 

8:00 p.m. My doctor shows up. She checks me and my water breaks in the process. She says I am complete on one side with just a lip of cervix on the other side. Should be soon now. I blog that I am about to have a baby and wait in terror for the next set of contractions. 

My doctor, Michelle Lewis, eats a popsicle with Sabrina (in the lower right corner). She is ready for me to start pushing anytime.
Here I am blogging my post about my water being broken. Janelle is on the phone behind me.

The next set of contractions are a little bit more intense but still not bad. I am still a little scared but the fear is leaving me as I see I am able to handle this pain level rather easily. I do have to focus during the contractions now but I am still smiling and laughing between.

Here I am focusing during a contraction on the birth ball. Annie and Dado are giving me air in my hair with the pump. I was too focused to realize they were doing this.

This is my "focus" object. A necklace a friend of friend made for me after Camille passed away. It has a picture of the two of us on it. I know she will help me through this.

The contractions continue to get stronger and I am really working through them. Janelle checks me after my doctor steps out to help a colleague with a C Section. She says I am an 8 on one side and totally dilated on the back side. I am feeling the contractions totally in my back. I turn over on my hands and knees for a bit to see if the baby will turn around and face the right way. It works and the pain transfers back to my belly. 

I feel the contractions change to the "transition" type of contractions and I really have to breathe through them focusing on relaxing my body. They are about every 2-3 minutes now. My lips are dry and I am eating ice chips. I am getting tired.

9:30 p.m. My doctor comes back and checks me again. She says I still have a bit of lip on one side but that it is really elastic and she thinks I will be fine to just start pushing. I have no urge to push. I feel no pressure. I usually feel pressure with my epidural. I thought when you don't have the epidural you are supposed to "know" when to push. I am scared to wear myself out pushing too soon. I have done that before. I prefer to let the baby come down on his own and push when I feel the need. But somehow it seems that could take all night this time. I decide to give a few pushes a try and see how it feels. 

9:45 p.m.  I am gentle in my pushing. I am a little scared of pushing so soon. Between pushes I am smiling and happy to see the best coach ever encouraging me on. Ann Marie has the doctor gloves on and is standing next to the doctor. She is giving me thumbs up and counting the pushes for me and motioning with her arms like an air traffic controller to tell me to bring that baby on out. She is seriously WAY too cute.

My little doctor coach helping me push.

I am pushing and everyone is telling me I am doing great and the baby is almost here. It is only an inch from crowning. They say they can almost see his head. I still can't feel any urge to push and I feel no pressure. Why can't I feel him if he is really so close to coming out? I mean I definitely feel the pain of the contractions but why no urge to push? I ask for the mirror so I can see. (this proves to be big mistake.) 

9:50 p.m. They adjust the mirror so I can see. I see nothing. I push twice more and still see no head. Janelle tells me not to look at the mirror because it is not helping. Everyone is telling me I can do this and that the baby is almost here. I lose all confidence. I lose all rational thought. I lose myself and become a crazy lady. 

I am sure they are all just saying that I am doing great to try to keep my spirits up. The baby (if there really is a baby in there), must be still way high if I can't even feel him yet. This could take all night. How many shows have I watched where all the nurses and people are telling the mom she is doing great and the baby is almost here and an hour or two later she is still pushing. Too many. No. I can't do this. I start to scream through the contractions and tell my mom to take the girls out. I don't want them to see me go crazy. I start bawling and tell everyone I can't do this. I have changed my mind. I want an epidural. I can breathe through the contractions. I just can't push. I am too tired. 

My doctor puts her fingers in to help open the way for the baby to come down. I yell at her. That really hurts. I insist on an epidural. She looks to a nurse and nods. Then she tells me she is having the nurse call about the epidural but she wants me to push just one more time before it gets here.  (A very clever lie.) 

I am in another world. I have completely checked out. Someone else takes over in my body and decides to follow the doctors orders and push. She pushes with everything left in me and suddenly I feel the baby's head at my tailbone. My eyes are closed but he must be crowning. The nurse behind me says if I push it will counteract the pain. I realize the end is really in sight. I am mad at the pain and done with all of this mess. I am mad that I turned into crazy lady and that I couldn't control myself enough to feel comfortable letting my kids stay for the birth. All of that madness channels itself into the next contraction and in less than 2 seconds the whole of the baby is shot out of my body and into the doctors arms and then up onto my chest.
10:01 p.m. I open my eyes to see that my doctor has jumped up on the bed with me and her eyes are full of the fire of excitement. She is a great cheerleader. She helped me feel the pressure to push with her hands in those last two pushes. She is the reason the baby is out. I love my doctor. I love whoever it was that entered my body and made it push. 
I am still hurting though. I thought the pain was supposed to be gone as soon as the baby came out. I am still crying as I look at my son for the first time. I am hurting too much to hold him but I do take a moment to touch him and see his cute face. 

We cry together. 

He is taken away to be cleaned up and weighed and all that. Here he is weighing in at 8 lbs. 12.4 ozs. Meanwhile I am still laboring in my bed to deliver a placenta bigger than a honeydew melon and swearing that next time I am getting myself one BIG FAT epidural. I continue in this frame of mind all through the sewing up of my 2nd degree tearing. I feel most of the that process too despite the numbing shots. Is there an end to the pain? I am then hooked up to an IV to get Pitocin to contract my uterus back down and get my bleeding under control. Finally it is picture time.
Here are the angels that helped me through my own personal Gethsemane. 
After about an hour I am able to enjoy a few peaceful, tender hours with my newborn son and the unseen angels who helped the two of us through this most painful transition. I spend a good portion of the night enjoying their presence. 

I have contractions every 10 minutes or so till about 3 a.m. (Where is my epidural now?) Between the contractions, the nursing, the hospital interruptions, the trips to the bathroom, and the sheer adrenaline I only sleep from 5 to 6 a.m. The rest of my time is spent in shock and wonder at the reality of this all.

A few thoughts:
Opposite Expectations: This birth proved to be the opposite of everything I expected. I expected I would have to be induced. I expected the dilating part of labor to be hard and tiring. It totally wasn't. I expected transition to be part of labor where I was most likely to lose my mind and ask for the epidural. I was totally fine through this part mentally. I knew I could handle that pain. I expected to want to push - to feel an overwhelming urge to push - to know how to push. Nothing there. I expected to be able to keep my head and that if I got into too much pain I would internalize it. I did NOT expect to turn into crazy lady. Highly disappointed with myself for that one.  I expected to have a feeling of high after the baby was born. No didn't get that. Was still just hurting too much. I expected to recover much faster. No. I think my tearing was worse because I pushed the baby out too fast. This has been my worst recovery since Sabrina. I have torn every time but the other 3 were really quick to heal. I was ready to go dancing the next day. Sabrina it took 10 weeks (that was really a bad one) and this one I am feeling better now 3 days later. 

Would I ever do it without drugs again?: Hmmm. No. Mostly because of the after birth part. I like being able to enjoy seeing my child right after they are born because I don't feel any pain. I like being able to be patient in the pushing part so I don't tear as much. I like not feeling the delivery of the placenta or the stitching up of my tear or the first after birth contractions or the pushing on my uterus to check it etc... If all the pain ended when the baby came out I would certainly consider doing natural again. But, next time I want my kids to be able to be there and be sure I won't turn into crazy lady and I want to be able to enjoy my baby as soon as he or she comes out. But I am glad I did it once and especially this time.

In Comparison: I am very grateful for this experience. I found it cathartic. I found it interesting how similar the things that came out of my crazy lady mouth were to the day of Camille's accident in the consolation room. I am sure I was in somewhat of a "crazy lady" state that day too. Both events changed my life forever. Both were incredibly painful. Both were highly spiritual and attended by angels I could powerfully feel. Both were experiences I learned a great deal from. Both are experiences I never want to have again.

What I gained: I have a whole new perspective and respect for mothers through the ages. I have a new respect and appreciation for my own mother and what she went through in bringing me into the world. I realize all too vividly that I had a really easy time with this labor. I really don't know that I could have endured what so many women do in hours and hours of hard contractions and hours of pushing after. 

After Camille's death I have thought to myself SO many many times, "generations of women have felt this pain and endured it. They are all united with you in this grief." There is a certain comfort in being connected to these valiant strong women who have passed through this veil of sorrow in losing a child. Now I also feel connected to the "generations" of women who have passed through the valley of the shadow of death to bring a life into this world.

I am completely amazed that life has been perpetuated by these generations of strong, brave, powerful women. Seriously. This was my 5th kid. My labor was short and relatively painless up until the last 2 hours. How a woman does this with her first labor - the one most frequently the longest and most difficult - and ever is able to think of having another kid ... Well it just must be a heavy dose of Heavenly Amnesia that allows for that.

So this post is dedicated to all the mothers out there. I am newly in awe of mothers on this most special Mother's Day.