Monday, December 17, 2012

Lola's Birth Story: Part 2

In case you missed it, here are our posts from our two weeks of early labor and part one of Lola's birth story:

About six strong contractions later we arrived at the hospital, parking in the garage for the first time. It was around 11 a.m., exactly 24 hours from my membrane sweep and the onset of labor. The walk to the birth center was straight out of a movie. I loudly moaned my way there, step by step, stopping at each rush. Everyone we passed would stare with a knowing smile. There’s something about babies that brings humanity together. The guy behind us in the skybridge slowly followed behind careful not to pass me, the male nurse in the hallway gave me a cheer, and the woman in the elevator offered to ride it up one extra floor with us just to make sure I was okay—so sweet.

A few more rushes and we made it to the birth center. We were welcomed by name and ushered into our room—coincidentally the same room as two weeks prior—to get checked. The room was filled with natural light as the day was bright but gray. A quintessential Seattle fall day. I changed into a gown and the nurse hooked me up to the monitors. I kept looking at Arthur to try to read his face, but he seemed to look as unsure as I felt at that moment. We made small talk until Fra Na arrived to check my cervix.

The moment of truth. I was 4.5 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Not exactly the 6+ cm I was wishing for, but I had made some progress from my check with Heather 24 hours prior at 3.5 cm and 50% effacement. Slow was the name of the game. Thankfully Fra Na had a positive attitude about my progress and casually responded with, “Well, it looks like you’re staying.” How surreal! In no time at all I was hooked up to my first round of antibiotics and fluids.

After taking a minute to soak in all that was happening, Arthur called Matilda to invite her to join us at the hospital. I could tell I was feeling ready for her coaching and was finally looking forward to having her with us. I didn’t anticipate having such strong feelings about not wanting anyone around during early labor, but I just didn’t want to have to deal with chit-chat with anyone other than my husband. This was our experience and I was really enjoying his companionship. She said she would be there within the hour.

Thirty minutes later I was off my first dose of antibiotics and freed from being hooked up to anything. I immediately stripped myself of the gown to put my leggings, tank top and sweatshirt back on and took to the labor ball. I thought it was silly that the nurse pointed me to the bathroom to get changed. After one contraction of trying to get my underwear on by myself in the world’s smallest bathroom, I threw open the door and begged for help. All modesty was about to fly out the window and I could care less who saw me in the buff.

Sometime during this shuffle, Matilda arrived and jumped right in to massaging my lower back through each contraction. With her on my left and Arthur on my right, I swirled and swirled on the labor ball for maybe an hour or two...time has no bearing in labor. Matilda would skillfully dig into my back with her fingers through each surge which felt so helpful. I was thankful she knew what to do without me saying a word. And Arthur, he was my comforter. He didn’t need to do anything but hold my hand. I loved holding his and having him inches from my face. It really did make a world of difference.

The nurses, however, were the bane of my existence coming in every 30 minutes to listen with the doppler and take my blood pressure. There was one nurse in particular that got an earful from me when she took too long to find the heartbeat. What nerve making me sit still for so long! I begged her to stop and go away.

Eventually Matilda suggested I try laboring in a new position. We landed with laying on my side in the bed with my leg up as high as it would go toward my head and propped up high on two or three pillows. This is one of the positions of the Miles Circuit, which she was adamant about. Moving from the ball to the bed wasn’t a cakewalk, but M and A made it happen and I labored there for another hour or so, continuing to moan loudly through each surge.

Around 2:30 p.m. Matilda suggested again I change positions and try to go pee. Considering I was doing okay how I was, I reluctantly agreed. So they helped me unravel from my contorted position and get me to the toilet. I peed per usual, but noticed a steady flow still coming out after my bladder felt empty. “I....think my water just broke!” I yelled out to the room with a complete look of shock on my face. Not sure of what to do, I just sat there with a blank stare waiting for someone to give me direction.

Not a minute later, somebody hailed down a nurse who got me set up with one of those famed giant hospital pads. They really are enormous. Rightfully so though, because when I stood up the gushing—and I mean GUSHING—continued. It seriously felt like a garden hose of warm water flowing out of me. I hated the feeling of having no control and couldn’t stop whining about how awful it was. I’ve heard some women say that their water breaking was like a small trickle, maybe a cup of fluid. Not me. I had Niagra Falls flowing between my legs. And it continued to flow sporadically the entire time I was in labor. There was even one point during a cervical exam that Fra Na went in to check and a rush of amniotic fluid came shooting out at her—I kid you not. I literally flooded the bed.

Now what? What’s a lady to do when her water breaks? Everything appeared to feel the same. I guess I had imagined that once it broke I would look like a deflated balloon and be able to feel the baby in a pile of loose skin. So creepy and so not true. In fact, my contractions actually halted and I got a much needed reprieve.

We knew one other couple from our Centering group was in the birth center, so we set out to find them while I had the energy. We were the last out of our group, but not by far as they delivered the day before. The visit was brief, since they were resting and I wasn’t sure when my contractions were going to kick in again (we all had a laugh that my water had broke just a few minutes prior and we were just hanging in their room!). But we did stay long enough to ask how the birth went and hear a bit about their experience. I honestly don’t remember much, other than hearing how she struggled with progressing and that the epidural was what allowed her body to relax and dilate....We congratulated them and set back to our room.

The timing of our getaway was perfect with my rushes reappearing full force the moment I stepped back in our room. Matilda had warned me that my contractions might start to get stronger with my broken bag of waters. I remember asking her what this meant. Would they stay at the same intensity but get longer and closer together, or were they going to get longer, stronger and closer together? She couldn’t tell me since every labor is different, but said they might get more intense and definitely closer together. Each turn of a corner was such a mystery.

I jumped back on the ball to moan and swirl, but this time the world was starting to get fuzzy. I was dripping in sweat, groaning from deep inside and definitely hitting the point of being extremely uncomfortable. I reminded myself of the visual I had read in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. A wave rushing in, hitting its peak, and flowing out. The waves were big and the storm was setting in. I grasped Arthur’s hand hard and wouldn’t let go.

Matilda was right there anticipating my needs and offering words of support in an assertive and confident manner. I began to alternate between whining about pain and exhaustion and feeling like a strong, beautiful and powerful woman. There was one particular moment that I recall being so empowered by the surges that I actually looked forward to the next one.

It must have been around 4:00 p.m. at this point. Matilda suggested I go pee and try laboring in the bed on my side again. This time I noticed the fluid was tinged green. I mentioned it out loud and a nurse came in to confirm that there was meconium (baby poop) in the fluid. My mind immediately rushed to panic, asking over and over if she was sure the baby would be okay. She assured me that everything would likely be fine and that we just need to keep an eye on our vitals since we didn’t want the baby aspirating any meconium.

The bed was uncomfortable, but really, everything was becoming incredibly uncomfortable. Matilda dug into my back through each contraction, trying to give me some sense of relief. I can’t recall much of what happened during this peak hour of labor, but I was slipping. I ended up out of the bed not long after getting in to try the ball, hanging on Arthur, and other suggestions from Matilda that just weren’t cutting it.

It was becoming clear to me that I was nearing my “wall”. I was about at my max. I thought to myself about how I knew I couldn’t take much more intensity and wondered how much more intense labor was going to get. I remembered the discussion with our friends a couple hours earlier about how helpful an epidural was to them. Intervention made sense to me now. I finally understood why someone would partake. I knew I had already given labor a hell of a run and was personally feeling surprisingly at peace with giving in to what I had predetermined was the sign of failing at childbirth. I was “there”, but how was I going to convince my team of this?

On the heels of a particularly intense series of rushes, I shouted, “I’m done! I DON’T WANT to do this anymore!” I was especially careful not to say, “I can’t” since I knew I would be met with a “Yes you can!” Matilda and Arthur both took this as a desperate plea, but kept encouraging me to keep going. I knew they weren’t going to take me seriously. That was their job—Matilda’s, specifically—we hired her to coach me through this. And what about all those preparing for natural childbirth classes we went through?

I didn’t want to say the “E” word. It felt wrong to say. I wasn’t ready to give in just yet. Maybe something could be said to keep me going and change my mind. Was this simply just a mental block? I repeated over and over, “I’m done. I don’t want this anymore!...I’m done! I’m done!” I really believed this.

I was wavering. I wanted to keep laboring naturally, but I was losing control. The contractions were slipping away from me and I couldn't seem to catch my breath. They were so intense. Should I try to keep going? It doesn’t feel like I can. I’m being told I can. Other women can. Why do I feel like I can’t? Maybe I can. Am I just being a wuss? I don’t see how I can take anymore of this. I’ll try another contraction. No! I can’t do this. I don’t WANT to do this.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Lola's birth story coming soon!

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