Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lola's Birth Story: Part 4

In case you missed it, here are our posts from our two weeks of early labor and part one, two and three of Lola's birth story. What a joy it has been to relive this blessed story. Next I will be posting my thoughts on our birth experience and can't wait to share those with you all! 

Lola's Birth Story: Part 2
Lola's Birth Story: Part 3

Without further ado, the conclusion of Lola's birth story:

I started to push with each contraction. Arthur was to my left supporting my head with each set of pushes. I held his hand so tight. “Okay, I’m ready to push,” I would hurriedly shout. Curled forward, with my hands pulling the back of my legs toward me, I gave it my all. By the third push I could do nothing more than shift my weight backward and crash into the bed. My breathing was hurried and shallow. Matilda reminded me to breathe deep.

With Matilda holding my left leg and Jen holding my right, I pushed and pushed...and pushed. My contractions were getting strong. The intensity in my hips was getting away from me. Where the heck was Fra Na? Why did everyone else seem to think that this baby wasn’t coming anytime soon? The room felt too casual.

Finally she arrived. I continued to push. “You’re doing so great. You’re making so much progress,” I was repeatedly told. I didn’t believe them. If I was doing so well, then why wasn’t the baby out? I hated the pep talking and at one point screamed profanity at Arthur and the rest of the room to stop. I wanted to hear concrete evidence that things were progressing. I told Matilda to stop telling me I was strong and could do this. I already believed that. I wanted them to tell me what the hell was going on, but I couldn’t find the words or energy to articulate this.

“We can see her head! Arthur saw her head!” Matilda exclaimed. Finally! I’ve got this! I figured I had a few more pushes to go. Breathe, push, breathe, push, breathe, push. And again...and again. Nothing was happening. No one was explaining anything. What happened to her head crowning? I felt so out of the loop, yet was the center of attention.

I started to lose hope with each passing contraction. I was exhausted. The hip pain was becoming too much. “MY HIPS!” I screamed as my body fell back into the bed after each contraction. Matilda tried digging in, hoping that counterpressure would give me some relief. I hated it, but didn’t have any better ideas.

Fra Na suggested I try pushing laying on my side. I didn’t want to, but didn’t have the energy to fight back. They rolled me over. I cried the entire time. My hips were in excruciating pain. I felt like I needed to vomit, but desperately didn’t want to. “I hate this!” I shouted over and over until they rolled me on my back just one worthless contraction later. I could sense Fra Na was starting to realize just how much pain I was in.

“I can’t do this!” I began to scream through each set of pushes. My hips were on fire. In a concerned tone, Fra Na asked more about the pain I was feeling. “It’s my hips! I don’t know! They hurt so bad,” I sobbed. She admitted she didn’t know what was going on. My midwife, the one who has been doing this for probably over 30 years, had no idea what was happening to me or how to fix it. The room was hot and fuzzy. I started to seriously doubt whether I could keep going. I figured a c-section was imminent.

Fra Na urged me to wait to push until the peak of each contraction. I began to long for pushing since that seemed to be the only thing to dull the pain radiating through my hips. It seemed that one set of pushes would be pure insanity and the next would bring enough relief to keep me going. It wasn’t consistent though, so I never knew what to expect. All I knew was that laying still during an oncoming contraction was pure hell. I still never had any urge to push despite being able to feel my contractions so clearly.

Nearly two hours had passed. I was mentally giving up, but I had no option to physically. I felt stuck. And then Fra Na spoke up in a calm and understanding voice, “I can call the OB in to help with the vacuum, if you are feeling like you need some help.” The world paused for about one second, just long enough for me to filter through my memory to recall learning in birth class that the vacuum was a relatively safe intervention. I hardly had to think about it. YES! How quickly can they get here?

I continued to push, hardly ever opening my eyes. I had only one thing to focus on. Arthur tells me the OB arrived, Dr. Goepfert, and just stood in the back of the room for ten minutes watching me push. I flooded the room with screaming. I am certain I was heard throughout the entire birth center. The pain—bad pain—was all consuming. None of this was what I expected from childbirth. And quite frankly, I don’t think it was typical childbirth pain. Nobody knew what was happening.

Finally, I heard in a cold voice, “Alright, Kelsey, I’m Dr. Goepfert. I’m here to help with the vacuum. In order for me to help you, you are going to have to push the baby farther down. Once I can get to the head, I will attach the vacuum and help, but you are going to still have to push. If this doesn’t work, the next step will be a c-section.” I was so annoyed. I needed encouragement, not to discuss what-ifs. With my eyes wide open, I stared her in the face and snapped, “Don’t tell me that! We’ll talk about that if I get there!” That was the most I had spoke in hours. I absolutely hated her in the moment and regretted the decision to bring her in. It was around 1 a.m.. I continued to push.

“I CAN’T DO THIS!!!! F*$%!!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. That was it. I was done. I thought about how I’d rather have a c-section than go on. I was in so much pain. “Yes you can. You have to do it, Kelsey,” Dr. Goepfert snapped back in a no nonsense tone. I hated the harsh way she was talking to me. I wanted to yell at her and tell her how awful she was, but couldn’t find my voice. So I did what she told me to, I pushed.

Somewhere during this period, I accepted an offer to have the anesthesiologist come back in and give me another dose of epidural. Within minutes she literally came running into the room, medicine in hand, ready to drug me up to the max. I could have cared less what was flowing through my body at this point. I was writhing in the bed. My hips were now in constant torture. I arched my back and contorted my body every which way to try to find a position that would let me catch my breath. It felt very visceral. I was living moment to moment, each second was different.

This woman was tender and sweet. I wished she was my delivering OB. She gave me a new dose, but nothing took effect. I asked if she could give me more, but she said I was at the max she could give without a c-section. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

I opened my eyes just long enough to survey the scene. The night sky was pitch black and peaceful looking. The room was dark with just a spotlight looming over my lower half. I could sense people standing in the dark perimeter of the room. Fra Na was quietly supporting my right leg. Matilda was at my left. Arthur was on the front lines standing right next to me. The poor guy was getting pretty beat up, but never once complained. Everyone seemed poised and ready.

I continued to push, now in sets of four. I felt myself losing consciousness during pushes and wondered if I could pass out from pushing. The thought terrified me so I forced myself to breathe deep. I was parched and demanded an ice chip in between each set, but was so nauseous that I could only take in one tiny chip each time. I was burning up. Fra Na got me a wet washcloth and placed it on my chest. It was on fire within seconds. I subconsciously created a ritual of flipping it between sets to the slightly cooler side. This was my saving grace in these moments and no one dare touch it—Arthur learned this the hard way.

I hated the pain, but had no other choice left than to lean into it. I think it may have been a combination of a bit of relief from the second epidural and general acceptance of the circumstances that gave me just enough energy. I pushed harder than ever. I was finally ready to meet my baby.

“Just a few more pushes, Kelsey!” Dr. Goepfert announced in an excited voice. I decided I didn’t hate her afterall. She attached the vacuum without skipping a beat. “Don’t stop pushing! Keep going!” she yelled.

The next rush. “I’m ready to push!” I shouted for the millionth time. I did four pushes. “Do another” she directed me. I obliged and crashed backward. Seconds later, the next rush. “Go for it, push hard!” I heard voices shout. The room was cheering me on and the excited energy was palpable. I pushed with everything in me. I pushed four times. “Just keep pushing!” everyone shouted in unison. PUSH FIVE! “Here she comes!” PUSH SIX! “Her head is out!” PUSH...

“She’s out!” I caught a glimpse and crashed into the bed, hysterically crying all the while. My world went blank.

She was immediately cut and rushed to the warmer two feet away to suction her mouth of any meconium. Our one minute apart felt the same as one second. My mind was spinning, but my body was limp. Before I could even comprehend she was out, she was back with me, chest to chest.

I just stared and sobbed. “Touch your baby!” Matilda enthusiastically said. Oh right. I shifted my right hand slowly toward her eventually meeting my hand to her wet skin. I rested it on her back and didn’t move. I felt her tiny spine. The sensation this created on my fingers will never escape me. I shifted my gaze toward Arthur who was just inches from my face. “This is our baby,” he gently whispered to me. He looked exhausted, but elated. He went back to staring at her.

Ecstasy swept over me. I fell in love. I wasn’t scared of her anymore. I couldn’t see anything but the dark hair on the top of her head. I desperately wanted to see what her face looked like, but was happy that Arthur could see her. I could wait. I began to feel around by rubbing my hand up and down her back. Her skin was so soft.

After a handful of minutes, I looked past her and realized business was going on down below me. “Have I delivered my placenta?” I asked. “Oh yes! It’s out and it looks great,” Matilda replied. I heard Dr. Goepfert talking and could see her focused on doing something to me. What is going on? Someone, maybe Fra Na, replied and told me I was getting stitched up. My attention shifted from my new family of three to trying to comprehend why my legs were sitting high up in stirrups and I wasn’t relaxing in bed.

The adrenaline was wearing off. My hips burned and ached. I asked when I could put them down, but was told that there was still quite a bit of stitching to do and that I had a hefty internal tear, likely from the vacuum. I was mostly numb from the local anesthetic, but could feel sharp pinching every few seconds. I struggled to focus on the baby. I was in such pain still and desperately wanted to be left alone.

As if that wasn’t enough, every couple minutes a nurse kneaded my belly with her hands to make my uterus contract. I cried out every time she leaned her weight into me. “Stop, stop!” I shrieked though clenched teeth over and over. All I looked forward to during those three hours of pushing was rest with my new baby, but instead got an additional hour of excruciating discomfort added on to the 39 hours of childbirth I had just endured. I was so caught off guard.

About 45 minutes in, I turned to Matilda and tearfully pleaded with her to make them stop. I wanted everyone to go away. The adrenaline was gone. I was crashing fast. I hadn’t slept more than a couple hours in over two days and just wanted to sleep. But instead, with tears rolling down my face, I just laid there, hardly able to hold on to the little warm baby on my chest.

Finally, over an hour postpartum, Dr. Goepfert announced the last stitch was in. My legs were let down and Lola was turned toward me so I could see her face. I didn’t recognize her, but she was beautiful. I laid my head back and we rested together while the room got cleaned up. Within an hour it looked as good as new and no one would have ever suspected a birth had just happened. Arthur and I talked while Matilda stood close by. The room was dimly lit and peaceful. I couldn’t believe she was here.

Matilda prompted me to start nursing early on since Lola was rooting pretty heavily, but I really wanted our first moments together to be relaxed, so I told her I wanted to wait until everything was over and I could enjoy it. After an hour of getting stitched up, and another hour of relaxing and giving Arthur a chance to hold the baby, she suggested it again. I was so tired and just wanted to sleep, but knew how important this was to establishing our breastfeeding relationship, so I told her I’d give it a try. I was pretty nervous, but let Matilda guide me through the motions.

Lola latched on right away, although magic didn’t seem to be happening. We continued working at it for about a half an hour when I announced I just needed to sleep. I figured Arthur and Lola would agree. So after getting cleaned up, some fresh linens put on my bed, and swaddling our sweet baby girl, we settled in for our first rest as a family of three.

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