"It was the oldest sound in the world. Souls flying away." The Secret Life of Bees

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Birth Story

The week prior to giving birth, I had mild contractions that would occasionally become somewhat regular, but after a few hours or after going to sleep, they would taper off and stop. I also went in for a few NST's (nonstress tests) and a biophysical ultrasound to make sure baby boy was safe and handling things okay (due to decreased fetal movement and because I was past my due date). The tests were somewhat reassuring, but my midwife felt like it would be best to have the baby sooner rather than later, so we tried some natural induction methods. She stripped my membranes on 1/21/14 (which caused an unusual amount of bleeding, but not much else). I had acupuncture done frequently during the last week, and did a lot of exercises at home (bouncing on yoga ball, squats, etc.). At my appointment on 1/21/14, I was 3cm dilated and 75% effaced.

1/24/14, 8 days past my due date, I went to an acupuncture appointment and then went in to see my midwife. We decided to use prostaglandins to try to jump start my labor. Afterwards, I went home and rested.

A few hours later, contractions started (first one was at 5:08pm). They were about 8-10 minutes apart. I timed them for an hour or two and then went on with my night as normal. I assumed it was just another evening of sporadic contractions that wouldn't lead to anything. Ben and I went to the grocery store and made dinner (shrimp tacos!). After dinner I decided to hop in the shower and then try to get some sleep. During my shower, contractions became stronger and closer together (every 5-6 minutes). I laid down at around 11:00pm and fell asleep quickly.

I woke up at 1:00am to use the bathroom. Once I laid back down, I realized I was still having contractions. I laid in bed and timed them for an hour or so and discovered they were now coming every 5 minutes. Still in disbelief that this could actually be it, I tried my best to go back to sleep. No such luck though:) I laid on my side and tried to relax through and in between contractions. Ben woke up around 3:00am and he timed my contractions until 4:00am - they were slowly becoming stronger and were starting to come every 4-5 minutes. Ben called the midwife at 4:00 and let her know what was going on. After he gave her all of the details, she asked to speak to me. I think she just wanted to hear my voice to try to gauge the situation better. We decided to keep trying to relax in bed for another hour, then give her a call back to update her. I stayed in bed and Ben got up to get the house ready. He cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed the living room, set up the birth tub, let the dogs out, etc. He made sure I was drinking fluids and he made some peanut butter crackers for me to snack on.

At around 5:30am contractions were continuing to get more intense and I wasn't able to talk through them. Ben asked me if it was time to call the midwife back and I moaned, "I don't know!". That was his cue that it was time to get her here. He called her and asked her to come over and also called our doula and let her know it was time to come. Even at this point, both Ben and I wondered if this was really it or if we called everyone over too soon. The midwife and her student arrived around 6:00 or 6:30am and our doula arrived shortly after. I came out to the living room and got on all fours on the couch. During each contraction, I stopped talking and moved my hips back and forth. In between, I still felt okay and felt like talking to everyone, letting them know there were muffins and other snacks in the kitchen and to make themselves at home. Our midwife and her student brought all of their equipment in and got it all set up and ready to go. Ben asked if he should start filling the tub, but everyone said no, that it was too early.

Our plan was to break my water as soon as I was in active labor due to my low-lying placenta (the hope is that once the water breaks, baby's head moves down and kind of acts like a plug, keeping the placenta from detaching too soon). Because of this, the midwife needed to check me to make sure I was progressing. I moved back to the bed and laid down. She checked my cervix and said, "oh Kristin, you are already at 7, almost 8cm. You are entering transition!". I immediately started bawling. I was just so relieved that I had already made it that far. I felt like I could actually do this! She broke my water and then she and Ben performed a technique to try to re-position baby a bit. I experienced intense back pain just on my left side through some contractions right before she broke my water - this is what made her aware of the need to turn baby a bit. I got on all fours and she and Ben got on either side of my belly. They placed a towel around my belly and moved it back and forth (like cleaning a bowling ball) during contractions. This was very uncomfortable for me, but it worked! No more back pain.

Here I am right after having my water broken eating greek yogurt and strawberries. My Doula insisted we get a picture of me eating a snack at 8cm dilated!

Ben was great at keeping me hydrated! I had lots of water, coconut water, and ginger ale.

This is when things got really intense. I went from feeling like I was managing things just fine to feeling out of control pain and intensity. I think the combination of entering transition, having my water broken, and doing the re-positioning technique all at once was really hard for me to handle. I labored on the bed, mostly on all fours, while I waited for them to fill the birth tub. They used a hose connected to the kitchen sink, but once our hot water ran out, they had to heat up water on the stove. I later learned that when everyone arrived, they thought I was still in the earlier stages of labor. My midwife guessed 4cm and my doula though maybe 5. This is why they they initially told Ben it was too early to start filling the tub. While waiting to be able to get in the tub, my doula used essential oils and massaged my lower back while Ben stayed up near my head and rubbed my shoulders, gave me fluids, and very sweetly encouraged me. I tried to get into a couple of different positions, but each time I tried to move, it seems like the pain got more intense and I immediately switched back to hands and knees. That's what felt right. I remember asking a few times when I would be able to get in the tub and I even said to Ben, "are they not going to let me get in?". I was so ready to get in the water to see if it would provide some relief. Once the tub was full enough, I made my way into the living room, stopping for a bathroom break first. I was having what felt like back-to-back contractions and had to stop for each one, so this took quite some time.

Once I made it into the tub around 9:00am, I had a short break in between contractions (a whole 2 - 3 minutes!). Having a little break and being able to submerge myself in warm water felt amazing! I started thinking about how wonderful the tub was, but then my next contraction came and I realized contractions were just as strong in the tub as outside of the tub. I remember getting a bit agitated and saying "I thought this was supposed to be the short part" referring to transition, because we learned in our class that although transition is the most intense part of labor, it is also the shortest part. The nurse replied that transition was over and that my body was ready to push, but that my mind needed to be ready too. I continued to labor in the tub, and ended up on hands and knees once again. At this point everyone was in the living room with me, but mostly giving me space. I had my eyes closed and was definitely zoning out and using all of my energy and focus on getting through contractions. My plan was to use the tub for pain management, not to necessarily give birth in the tub. However, once I was in the tub, no way was I moving again!

After a while, my body just started pushing. The midwife did not check me, no one told me when to start pushing, no one screamed at me to push harder, I just did what my body wanted to do. I don't think I even realized I was pushing at first. Although my doula told me later that there was a definite change from transition to the pushing stage, I didn't notice it. To me, it felt like the intensity never eased up from when I entered transition to when my baby came out. I remember feeling so much pressure all over my body. The nurse used a handheld doppler to check baby's heartbeat after every few contractions. Even her holding the wand on my stomach felt like too much. Just that tiny little bit of added pressure made it seem unbearable. On one point, I physically pushed her away (I can't believe I did that!). The midwife very sternly reminded me that they have to check baby's heartbeat occasionally and I refrained from pushing the nurse away again, even though I wanted to. Our doula placed cold washcloths on my back and wiped my face with a cool cloth. Ben fed me ice chips and was so calm and encouraging. After pushing for a bit, I started feeling a sense of desperation. I was experiencing so much pain, pressure, and intensity that my mind wanted to find a way out. Once I came to the realization that the only way for the pain to end was to birth the baby, I felt more determined than ever. I pushed with all my might. I found strength that I didn't know I possessed.

At 11:35am, after 1 hour and 20 minutes of pushing (18 hours and 27 minutes since my first contraction), Hugo Augustine Walker was born. I felt such relief and joy on so many levels. He was immediately placed on my chest and after spitting up some water, he let out the softest little cry. My heart overflowed with love for this little guy and I just held him tight and stared into his beautiful eyes. After a few minutes, I delivered the placenta and then Ben cut the cord.

Once the placenta was delivered, I started bleeding a bit more than normal. They passed baby to dad and quickly got me out of the tub and into bed. I ended up having a minor postpartum hemorrhage. After an injection and uterine massage, the bleeding stopped and baby was placed back on my chest. Ben and I had some time alone with baby in our bedroom while everyone else cleaned up. After a couple of hours, the midwife came in our bedroom and examined baby. This is when we learned he weighed in at 9lbs 2oz! Big, healthy boy! I had to have some stitches for a small tear and then they wanted to help me into the shower. However, because of how much blood I lost, I was unable to get up. Even sitting up in bed caused me to feel light-headed. I stayed in bed and Ben made me an egg sandwich. I felt much better after eating. Everyone packed up and left and Ben, Hugo,and I rested in bed for the rest of the day.

I feel so incredibly lucky that I was able to give birth in the peace and quiet of our own home with such wonderful, knowledgeable, supportive women there to assist us. I also feel lucky to have such a caring and loving husband. Ben was the best labor coach/partner I could have asked for.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

2 weeks!

I am looking forward to sharing my birth story, but haven't had time to properly write it up just yet.  In the meantime, here are some pictures from Hugo's first two weeks.

Late night feeding session

milk drunk

First car ride at 6 days old.  We went to the midwife's office for a weight check.

Sweet little guy:)

He discovered his finger!

First bath - he loved it so much!

Clean,cozy boy

Those eyes!  Those lips!

So many cute faces