Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gabriel's Birth Day, Part II

[Part I]

We arrived at the midwives' office around 2:30pm, and had to wait several excruciating minutes while the receptionist finished some paperwork before talking to us. Thankfully, one of the nurses saw that I was in labor and rescued me from possibly having to experience a contraction in a waiting room full of people. She took us quietly to a back room where we waited for the midwife on call to come check me.

She came in, saw my face and said, "I think this is the real thing. You have that look." Then she checked my dilation and told me I was 3 or 4 centimeters dilated.

I was happy - 3 or 4 is better than a 1 or 2! I was in labor! Wooo! All this pain wasn't just practice!

She also told me she could break my bag of waters to get things moving faster. I told her no, because I wanted labor to move along at the pace it was supposed to - and I was scared of contractions suddenly worsening. I think my exact words were, "This is all the pain I can handle right now." 

She smiled and told me she'd tell the birthing center I was on my way over.

We walked out to our car, and that's when I stopped caring if I had contractions in front of other people. I had a contraction in the parking lot and had to sit on the back of a delivery truck and lean again Mike to get through it, humming/groaning/moaning loudly. When I was done, I realized a little girl and her dad had just walked by. "Do you think I scared them?" I asked Mike.

We parked our car in the hospital parking lot (which is about 2 feet from the midwives' parking lot)  and made our way over to the hospital, stopping along the way to contract.

I panicked when I realized we'd forgotten to bring copies of our birth plan along to give to the nurses and midwife. Mike reassured me that he had remembered them. The best ever, that man is.

Once there, we waited in triage to be admitted - the nurse asked us questions and told us they were preparing the room with the birthing tub for me. Even in my preoccupied state of mind, I was so happy about two things - one, that the nurse was kind enough to not talk to me during contractions (so many birthing books I read talked about how to deal with nurses that ignore your contractions - I didn't have to worry about that!) and two, that the room with the birthing tub was available. I had feared that since the birthing center only had one room with a tub, I wouldn't get to use it. I also feared that since the center was so small (eight rooms), I might get bumped to the bigger hospital that is known for being a bit too intervention-prone. Happily, I got to be where I wanted.

Room 301. The place to be.

We walked down to our room, which was big, with a bed, several chairs, the birth tub, and a bathroom. They hooked me up to the external fetal monitor to get an initial read and make sure the baby was tolerating the contractions well. He was, which meant I only had to get the monitoring intermittently instead of constantly. I also got a Heparin lock, in case I would need an IV later. It's amazing how little getting a needle in your arm hurts when you're in pain from labor!

Since I wasn't yet dilated five centimeters, I wasn't allowed to labor in the tub - so Mike and I spent an hour (two? I have NO SENSE OF TIME.) laboring on the birthing ball (aka: exercise ball). The nurse and midwife left us alone, which was so nice. It was like we were at home - the lights were dim, the room was quiet, and we just labored and labored. We first tried going for a walk around the hospital, but I didn't get far before needing to throw up - which is not so pleasant to do in front of others.  It was during this time that we called our families to tell them we were in labor. (I hadn't planned on telling my parents until the baby was born - but since we had plans to meet them that night for Mike's birthday, I needed them to know.) Back in our room, I sat on the ball, draping my arms and upper body on the bed. Mike sat behind me and talked me through contractions, rubbing my back and reminding me to relax.

Every contraction, I realized I was tensing my uterus.  I knew I needed to let my stomach relax, because all my reading told me that my uterus would have to work twice as hard if I tensed up. But relaxing through pain is so much easier said than done! I'd relax, and it would hurt way more. I didn't notice any increase in pain in the contractions - each one was just so hard, I'd think, "Well. That was the worst I could handle."

To make the contractions more fun, I was still vomiting if I tried to drink any liquids at all. Throwing up during a contraction? Let me tell you what, it's hard. And this is when Mike really impressed me. Because he'd bring the basin over so I could throw up, then he'd dispose of it and clean out the basin. Multiple times. I offered to clean it out myself, because: eww. But he insisted. What a guy.

After lots of laboring outside of the tub, Susan the midwife checked me again. I was a 6! Hurrah! To the tub!

I got in the gloriously warm water in just a sports bra and labored for a few more hours (or just an hour? again - no sense of time) in there. We had a good coping method down - I'd stick one leg out of the water during a contraction and Mike would press an accupressure point in my foot during the contraction. It made the contraction way better. As in, they were only moderately insanely painful. When I wasn't doing the foot routine, I'd lean again the side of the tub and Mike rubbed my shoulders and back.

These contractions sucked, but being in the water was So Nice. Unfortunately, though, Susan came back to check me and told me I hadn't dilated much further, so I might want to think about getting out of the water for a little while. No one ever told me what I had to do, which was part of the reason I had such a positive birth experience. Instead of feeling like a patient, with medical professionals doing things to me, I felt like I was in control and making the decisions. It was quite empowering. 

Anyhow, I got out of the tub and spent some more time on the birthing ball and walking around the room. I squatted through a few contractions, and before I knew it - I was eight centimeters dilated. Susan asked again about breaking my water, and I told her YES. Because I had been laboring a long time - I'd guess it was around nine or ten at this point? - and my body had naturally made it to eight centimeters, so it wouldn't be as big a shock as if I'd gotten it broken at three centimeters. 

During this time, I started listening to this CD on repeat. It was amazingly relaxing, but if the track after it on my "Labor!" play list came on - the sound of ocean waves - I would lose it and say, "Please. Turn it off! Please!" I couldn't stand the sound of ocean waves for some reason. After listening to the relaxation CD so. many. times. during labor, you'd think I'd get sick of it. Or associate it with pain. However, I still enjoy listening to it - especially when I'm trying to help Gabriel calm down.

Anyhow. Back to labor. She broke the water and I got back in the tub. 

And things got hard, hard, hard for the next few hours.

I had the best labor coach.

After my water was broken, Susan and our new labor nurse - Wendi - stayed in the room much of time. Even though the earlier labor was better with just Mike and I, having them around was wonderful. Especially Wendi.  (Who was sweet enough to grab my camera and take photos - even though we didn't ask her to.) They were so helpful and supportive - giving suggestions to Mike about the different positions to try, telling us how wonderfully we were doing, and pouring warm water over my belly during contractions. (Which: OMG. The best feeling ever.) It was an amazing labor support team, and I am SO THANKFUL for each one of them.

But especially my husband. Just look at how intensely he is focusing on me:

Labor is Hard Work, yo.

The first time I was in the tub, I wanted to be alone. But the second time, having Mike in there with me was wonderful. He would hold me and support me and love me. Wendi and Susan even threw some hospital pillows in the water with us to make it more comfortable.

These contractions were HARD. My body felt like it was ripping apart - and I said to Mike, "I never knew I could be in so much pain and not be dying." It was unbelievable amount of pain. I have no other way to describe it than feeling like my hips and back were being pulled apart.

I imagine this was transition - since I said approximately twelve billion times, "I can't dooo it! I give up! It's too hard!"

To which Wendi replied, "You are doing it! You can do it! You're amazing! You're doing so much better than most first-time moms!"

Later, when Susan and Wendi would tell me what a great job I was doing, I'd argue with them, "I don't feel like I'm doing a great job. If I were doing a great job, I wouldn't be shouting. Or swearing."

One time, I believe I so eloquently said, "I've...never...been so my whole effing life!"

Smiling. In between contractions...
In between contractions....

Contraction. Needing Mike.  
...and...during. Ouch.

During this really tough stage, I also said, "I can't believe people voluntarily do this multiple times! It hurts so much!" Susan reassured me it gets easier after the first time.

In between contractions, I was able to joke around a bit, but during - I was focused. Everything around me was blurry and in slow motion. The only thing I could think about was my body. In my periphery, I noticed they were setting up things for the delivery in the room. Was there an end in sight?

Toward the end of this stage, I started grunting and my body would push, even though I wasn't trying to. It was a weird experience. "Why am I pushing??" I asked, bewildered. 

Susan said, "Maybe  because it's time to push?" and got her gloves out to check me...

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