Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Birth, part 2

If you missed part 1, here it is.

(This post is unapologetically about the truth of birth. Not for the squeamish or easily offended. Contains some blunt vocabulary.)

As a reminder, I left you all hanging as I had decided to admit it was birthing time and was about to change into my birthing clothes before heading to the birthing center. It is the early morning, some would say late night, after my sister's 32nd birthday and 24 hours before my grandfather's 81st birthday.

3:30am - Pete calls the midwives, who usually check in with momma to see where they really are in the grand scheme of labor and delivery. My short conversation with Jean took place on my bedroom floor, between contractions, as I changed out of my shorts and into a nursing bra and gown.

"How's it going?" She asked.
"Things are getting intense quick" I whispered, not wanting to wake Emagene just yet and still slightly breathless from the last contraction. Plus, I was really trying to be polite. What I wanted to say was something along the lines of: I'm in labor! How do I stop the numbing pain in my hip joints while trying to get dressed to leave? Is it possible you could you come here?
"Well, I guess it's time to head to the birth center. How long does it take you to get there?"
"We have to drop off my oldest, so 10-15 minutes?"
"Alright. We'll get there about the same time then."
"See ya soon."

I handed the phone back to Pete and as soon as I got my gown over my head, I ran to the bathroom as my water broke, thankfully in the toilet.
Pete met me in the bathroom again (poor man was getting dizzy trying to determine if I was on the bed or on the toilet every time he came to check on me!). He had come to tell me Emagene was in the car and ready to go.

"My water just broke. In the baby carseat is a package of water proof pads. Will you put one on the seat in the car?"
"Good idea."
"With E, my water broke at 6cm" I thought, doing my own mental progress check. I should have considered that I had just dilated 2 cm in 2 contractions.

Pete came back to get me;
"I really want to get in the water."
"Should I fill the tub?"
"We don't have time to do it here and still get to the birth center. We'll just fill their tub when we get there."

By the time I reached the car, I was having such intense contractions I could barely cope. Plus, being buckled in an upright seat and not wanting to scare my 3-year old - who was visibly excited it was finally time to get the baby out - made keeping up with the intensity elevation difficult. There was some loud noise making.

3:50 (?) - We are pulling out of the driveway. Pete had never been to Jen's house before. Ever. He had a text message with directions but I knew the secret of the strange intersection; the intersection that if handled wrong would get him incredibly lost. So the drive was a combination of me having contractions I could barely cope with -squeezing handles and neck rests and trying to rotate the ache out if my hips- and giving him directions. (Who does that?! I was definitely in transition, based on my sudden desire for pain meds and not wanting to leave the house, though I didn't realize it at the time.)

4:00 ish - (I was no longer concerned with the passage of time) - We pulled into Jen's driveway as I got hit with another wave and thought, Is that the urge to push? Couldn't be.

Once it passed, Pete helped Emagene into Jen's arms with her overnight bag, got back in the car and began the 5 minute trip to the birth center. As we backed down the drive, I rolled down the window and waved to Emagene, shouting "I love you, Emagene!" Completely surprising Jen that I was able to talk while reassuring myself and Emagene that everything was gonna be fine.
K, she's safe and not worried about me, I thought as I rolled up the window and was slammed with the desire to bare down.

Speeding way too fast, Pete started quoting the mantras he remembered from our last birth: "Remember it's just an interesting sensation to help get the baby out"
"Right. I know," I said, baring down again.
I squeeze my hip bones toward my naval to release the pressure in my abdomen and realized just how low in my body the pressure was compared to moments before. I was starting to open. I shifted my pelvis forward, undid my seatbelt and yelled: "this seat belt is too tight!"
"So take it off" (men are so very helpful during birth...)
"I already did!" Baring down again while squeezing the emergency brake handle and the door handle simultaneously.
"Peter, it's time. This baby is coming. Now." I say in what I think is a calm voice. Oh, look the rec center.
"I know. Hold on." He replies.
"She's crowning."
"We'll be there soon."
What part of 'crowning' did he misinterpret? I think to myself. Time to be incredibly clear; "There is a baby coming out of my vagina. RIGHT. NOW!"

He looks over and steps on the brakes. Once the car comes to a complete stop - halfway around the corner in the intersection of Windsor and Hwy 77, less than a mile from Inanna - he jumps out and comes around the car. I'm still trying to hold her in a little and push, not helpful and totally resulted in bruising.

"Can you lay back any more?" He asks, trying to hide the panic creeping into the edges of his voice.
I recline the seat, find a helpful place for my feet, and grab the emergency brake handle and whatever that handle above the door is called and push.

"I can see her nose. One more push and her heads out. Can you push?"
"I need to listen to my body, Peter," I was probably a little more curt then I needed to be.
Then I push.
"Okay, one more and her body will be put." I really think he was talking to stay calm, so I rolled my eyes and stopped responding.

4:15 am - Another push - she's out, facing to the right, he's got her little white body covered in bodily fluids, and amniotic fluid has sprayed all over the console and dash. But not the seat thanks to my mid-labor thinking ahead and the pads! With that gushing feeling that comes from a small body unblocking a larger-than-normal opening, I looked around to determine the mess of the car. As I reached for the baby I saw the clock: 4:15. Glad I had looked around or we would have no idea of her birth time.

Pete set the baby on my chest, grabbed an extra pad to wrap her in and runs around the car. He proceeds to drive like hell the remaining 3-5 the minutes to the center.
In the meantime, I make sure to point out that she's breathing, I can see her nostrils working. And she's already pink, so no worries on the cord being pinched anywhere. After no time at all really, maybe a minute (we were literally around the corner from the center), she starts to whimper. Then the cold air hits her and she full on cries. Pete physically relaxes and obeys the red traffic lights. He later told me that until that point all he could think was "is there anything in this car we can use as a sucky ball thing (bulb syringe)?"

He calmly pulls up the birth center drive and Jean meets him at the door. I don't know what their conversation entailed but I can see her face chance from Pleasant Greeting to Game Face. She calmly and quickly walks over to the car, access the situation, relaxes a little and helps me out of the car. We slowly walk into the center, babe in arms and still attached to the placenta within, and onto the bed. After helping me out of my blood-soaked clothing and getting blankets for baby, she calls her birth assistant, Amber, who would have been called in after I entered transition to help with the immediate infant and postpartum care, but we kinda skipped that part. From that point on, everyone acts as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened or that Jean had assisted three births prior to ours that evening.

So there you go. Aoife (EE-fuh) Rose was born at 4:15am, in an intersection. She weighed in at 7lbs 13 oz and was 21 inches long. Dark hair, blue eyes, perfect everything. She left the outside of the birth center looking like a murder scene when we trooped into the warm bed at 4:21 am. She was greeted with lots of kisses by her big sister just after 5 am, and by 7:30 we were all back home, snuggled in bed, eating farm fresh eggs, and trying to process what had just happened. While it is incredibly nice to be fed real food, in my own bed, hours after giving birth with no one pestering me for blood pressure or lab donations, I'll give the hospital experience one thing: the forced overnight or 2-day stay definitely gives a new family time to process that change has just occurred. When we woke to a skinnier me, a tiny wiggler, and a day of exhaustion, the ordeal of the night before seemed like a dream.

Or a movie we had stayed up too late to watch.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Birth, part 1

Warning: Contains some detailed descriptions of natural labor

Last week, I had a surprise. Our newest family addition decided to come early, and dramatically. To give you the full scope of this tale, I've decided to make this into a 2 parter. Otherwise I may never get the story typed up and the new one will be 6 months old before you're able to hear the tale of The Night of Thirteenth of August.

We've been planning on birthing at the Inanna Birth and Women's Center, here in the Denton, since the beginning of this pregnancy. They've been great every step of the way and I'm so glad its only a few minute drive from my house, about seven minutes, with traffic lights.

The incredibly long To Do list I posted last time was nearing completion. We'd gone to one water park, had plans for the big water park, cleaned, healed the chicken and various other things. All that was left was to plant the fall garden and make the bed in the guest room. Upon waking Tuesday morning, Emagene and I took our chosen seeds out to the garden and spent the cooler hours of the day planting, mulching and spreading diatomaceous earth in the garden. The tiny bit of heat that rolled in near noon wore me out and we decided to just play in our hot tub instead of having a solo day at the water park. 

Good thing we stayed home because I started having contractions in the water. Full on, take all your concentration, try not to snap at the unsuspecting preschooler swimming around you, contractions. I got out of the tub after 3 of these rushes to drop my mucus plug off in the toilet. I then decided I should let Pete know what had just happened since Emagene was born 24 hours after the bloody show and second babies typically come faster.  

4:30p - I got back in the tub and reminded Emagene that mommy's belly has to squeeze to get the baby out and while it's practicing I might not be able to answer her questions but instead need to sit still with my eyes closed til my belly stops squeezing. She tried to be respectful as I went through another contraction. When it was over, I asked her to ask the baby when it was going to come. (We'd played this game before and the answer was 5 days. I tried to bargain for 15. That was 10 days before this.)

She put her ear to my belly and said "baby coming now." 
"Now? Not tomorrow or Saturday when Aunt Rachel will be here?"
"Yup, now." She said matter-of-factually and returned to swimming.

After another manageable contraction, I got out of the tub and double checked that everything was packed and Googled how to stop or slow pre-term labor. (A lot of good that really would do since I was 39 and 1; not exactly pre-term.) I spent the rest of the night lounging on the sofa visualizing my uterus staying closed and resisting the urge to get in the bathtub and relax. I avoided this because relaxing in the tub could either stop labor or speed it up. I did not want it to speed up. I did, at least make sure a friend was available to take Emagene should baby have a different plan and try come during the night.

7:00p ish - Pete came home, made dinner, reviewed the When to Call the Midwives protocol, and then cast my belly. Finally. (Which was a good thing since 7 hours later I would be holding a new bundle of... baby. I would say joy, but it was truly a crying bundle of mess.) I continued having mild contractions on and off all evening, far enough apart and manageable enough to stop noticing them.

Anyway- we all showered and went to bed as if nothing was out of the ordinary, this could easily be false labor or another 24 hours before anything interesting happened. The only exception in our nighttime routine was taking a minute while reading baby On the Way to tell Emagene that if the baby decided to come out before Aunt Rachel came to visit that she'd most likely spend the night at her friend's house. 

1:30am - I am awoken with an intense contraction. It's short lived and had me slightly confused as to whether the bacon I had eaten for dinner was given me gas or if it was a contraction. I was so confused that the next rush twenty minutes later sent me to the toilet, just in case. For the next hour or so I kept going back and forth between the bed and the toilet as guided by my ... body?... Hormones?? ... the baby?? i don't know which, but that's what I did. I tried to lay in child's pose and slow things down, but was too uncomfortable (and squished on the bed beside Emagene). 

2:30am - I moved to the foot of the bed where there is more room and tried to fall asleep. As soon as I lay on my side, everything protested and I got back on all fours rocking through the squeeze. I think I must have moaned a little because as I'm coming out of it, Pete sits up and ask how I'm doing. I haven't admitted to myself I'm in labor yet, so I just respond with an "I'm doing OK." He sits and watches me in the dark for a minute while he tries to wake up and remember he duties. Then I have another rush.
"Wow, those are close together." He says. 
"Yeah, but they're short. I think we're supposed to wait until they're 1 minute long and 3-5 minutes apart for about an hour." Another contraction. "When do I admit this is the real thing? When i throw up?" he goes to check the When to Call sheet again. I go to the bathroom.

In the quietness of being alone and tying to calm my mind I remembered watching an interview on More Business of Being Born. The celebrity had said that it is the baby's job to get out and her job to stay out of the way so the baby can do its job. Time to get out of the way.

"Alright, Aoife, you're in charge."

The rushes started intensifying. They came closer together and happened with such purpose that I had trouble keeping my coping techniques up to speed.

3:00a- Pete came into the bathroom to tell me Jen was awake and ready for Emagene and that he was going to put the bags were in the car. I answer him by saying "I think I'm gonna throw up." Since I was sitting on the commode, again, he ran to the kitchen to fetch a bowl and returned just as I turning around and releasing bile.
"I guess it's go time. And thanks for the bowl."

He went to call the midwife on duty. I sat back down to rest and was met by the memory that with E I was 4 cm when I vomited at the hospital. Taking a deep breath, I thought "I still have a while to go tonight."

While Pete's sorting out which midwife to call, I start experiencing shooting, numbing pain in my hip joints, similar to pinched nerves, during contractions. No matter how I adjusted, my legs screamed at me and all I could think was "maybe I can take something for the pain? Take the edge off this. No, they can't do that at the birth enter and ibuprofen is bad for the baby." The sudden inability to cope with a desire to "give up" is a major sign of transition.

 I decide its time to change out of my pajamas and into my birthing clothes.

To Be Continued...