method of lizzy

preservations… for posterity

Happy Birthday, Calvin

Baby boy, this year has gone by so quickly. I have loved so much and I have learned so much. You turned my world upside down. I love you – you’ll never know how much.

My baby is one today. In honor of his birthday, I decided that I should finally write down his birth story.

I had been planning a natural childbirth long before I was even pregnant. When I moved to Atlanta I quickly figured out which hospital would let me have a waterbirth and I also found an awesome midwife and began to see her. Although I am a supporter of homebirth, I really wanted my first to be born in a hospital, minus the typical hospital experience. Fortunately that option was available to me.

I was due in mid-August 2008. August came and went. My midwife began talking about the unthinkable: induction. I really did not want to be induced. I really feared being induced. I have read so many horror stories of failed inductions as well as stories of women who believe that pitocin contractions are much worse that natural contractions. Since I was going drug-free, this was certainly a concern. But my midwife promised a “low and slow” pitocin drip. Best of all, we would turn off the pitocin once labor got going. With that reassurance (as well as additional reassurance from my doula) I felt fairly ready when I checked into the hospital on the morning of September 2nd.

I was monitored for a little while and we discovered that I was already contracting a bit. These contractions were barely noticeable to me, but the machine was picking them up. My doula thought that this was a good sign and that I would experience a successful induction (I should mention that I had a fairly good Bishop’s score – I was already 2 cm and 70% effaced). Still, I was nervous. I felt that my goal had changed from having a natural childbirth to simply having a vaginal birth. When the nurse asked me if I was going to want an epidural, I said “I’m not sure.” This was really a reflection of my fear. She later told me that she went ahead and ordered the epidural, since most people who talk like that do end up with one!

The pitocin drip started around 10 am. As promised, it was a very low dose (we started at 2). Throughout the morning and afternoon the nurse increased the dosage. I spent most of the morning in bed, trying (but failing) to sleep. We watched TV, we chatted. Later in the afternoon, the contractions really started to pick up. I remember the doula telling my husband “we should probably turn off Seinfeld now.” (My husband later told me that he was a little bummed about that, because it was one of the episodes that he had never seen.) Thanks to my doula’s notes, I can tell you that labor progressed as follows:

4:30PM – Midwife checks me and I am 4cm, 90%. I remember she told me that I would give birth by midnight.

4:45PM – I got out of bed and moved on to the birth ball

5:30PM – I become much more serious, contractions intense. Pit was lowered (had been at 24).

6:50PM – The pit is turned off (yay!). 6cm. We walked the hallways for a bit.

7:30 PM – David made me some Easy Mac (great food for labor). It was really difficult, but I did manage to eat some of it.

8:25PM – I’ve only been off the pitocin for an hour and a half, but my contractions have started to space out.

9PM – Talk with the midwife and we decide it’s time to break the water. 7cm. Shortly thereafter I go through transition. I remember saying “I’m going to throw up” and then, of course, I did. I remember thinking “This is a good sign!” and being somewhat pleased about it. I labored on my left side in the Sims position for awhile. I rested as much as possible.

Not too long after that, we moved to a new room with a large tub. Labor was intense, and I remember David expressing some concern for me. My doula reassured him that everything was fine.

Shortly before midnight I got into the tub. At first it was a welcome relief, but then I discovered that there was still a lot of work to do. The midwife checked me and to my relief, I was complete. However, contractions were still irregular. I heard someone mention pitocin and I thought “Noooooooooooooooooooo!” Fortunately there was another alternative that was easy, painless and free: nipple stimulation. My husband poured water over my nipples, which releases oxytocin and helps speed up labor. After we began doing this, contractions began picking up again.

We soon moved on to the pushing stage. I pushed for almost three hours. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to push out a baby. You almost expect that you are about to break in half. It’s intense. To be perfectly honest, at this point I had decided that the whole natural childbirth thing was a crock. I decided that there was no way I would ever do this again… that next time I would get an epidural or maybe even a c-section. However, I had said that I would have a natural childbirth so I was going to follow-through and do it this time. It’s a good thing that I am so stubborn or I might not have been able to do it.

So there I am, in the middle of the most intense experience of my whole life. And all of a sudden… Whoa! There is a baby being handed to me! It was probably the most amazing moment of my whole life. All I could do was say “oh my gosh! oh my gosh!” I remembered from the waterbirth class that I was supposed to keep the baby nestled close to me in the water so that he would stay warm. I held him for a bit and then David cut the cord. The midwife said that he looked like a big boy. Indeed he was – 9lb 14oz.

My biggest regret is that I don’t have any pictures of the birth – my doula was in charge of the camera and she had a hard drive crash shortly thereafter. I’m still sad about that, but it seems like a fairly small complaint given that in the end I had a healthy baby and the birth experience that I had wanted.

In a future post I will talk about other regrets.

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September 3, 2009 - Posted by | all things baby, childbirth, crunchy, midwifery, motherhood, parenting, women's health

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