Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Our Birth Story

After being in complete denial that I was in labor, I realize that our birth story begins on Monday, May 17 (2 weeks before she was due). I remember talking to my sister in the morning and telling her that I was feeling, what was most likely, braxton hicks contractions. I felt a very mild tightening in my lower abdomen that wrapped all the way around to my back. I had not had braxton hicks contractions at all during my pregnancy, so I just assumed that was what I was feeling. This tightening sensation continued all throughout the day at about 20-30 min. intervals. I continued on with my day- walking a mile on the treadmill and hanging out at the house.

I remember on Monday night being woken up once or twice by these contractions. They were so mild and unimpressive, so I was sure they were still braxton hicks. Tuesday came and I was still having them (about 20 min. apart). They were so mild, so Grant and I went about our day. I had a checklist of things I still wanted to get done before the baby was born, so we went to Lowe's to get a carpet steam cleaner and proceeded to steam clean the whole house! Can we say serious nesting here! All the while these contractions were happening at a steady consistency. Still in denial here. Well, that night Grant and Marty installed all our new kitchen appliances. I remember about 8:00 or so going downstairs and telling Grant that the contractions were still happening, but assured him that we were not going to have the baby any time soon.

Right after Marty left the contractions got stronger. They were about 7 min. apart. Now I started feeling the pain! I tried to go to sleep that night, but it was like a switch had gone on and they were real contractions. I still didn't believe that I was in labor. I thought I would be feeling this way for the next two weeks! (I was in denial, because the contractions were in my back- I no longer felt anything in my abdomen). Around midnight, Grant and I decided that we needed to clean the kitchen. If this was the real thing, then we wanted to come home to a clean kitchen. So we cleaned. Around 1:00 that morning, I still couldn't sleep (not from excitement, but from pain), so I tossed and turned for a few more hours. At 3:00 I got up and went to play around on the computer (looking up real labor vs. false labor, of all things). The contractions were 6-7 min. apart. I remember the pain was so intense in my back that I would have to get out of the seat and lean on it to get through it. I also infected our computer with a nasty virus, causing the computer to freeze on itself and never answering my questions about real vs. false labor! Go figure. I never went to bed that night. We weren't too concerned yet, because we had an appointment with the midwives at 8:00 on Wednesday morning.

Well, Wednesday morning came and we packed ourselves up and went to Chapel Hill for our appointment. I thought it might be wise to go ahead and pack our birth bag- you know, in case this was real labor! Well, we got to to the Birth Center and went ahead and got myself checked to see if this was real labor. I was 2 cm. dilated. She said we would probably have a baby later that night or tomorrow. I was in shock. Complete shock. I naively thought this was still braxton hicks and we would have a few more weeks of this. (I know, I'm a genius). The midwife suggested going home, getting a massage and taking a nap.

I happened to have a scheduled massage that day so I went ahead and had that done. My good friend, Meridith, did the massage and she knew some trigger points to get labor going. Sweet! So after that, I went home and took a "nap." Side note: there is no sleeping through contractions! There is resting, but no sleeping! The rest of the day went by with contractions staying consistent and getting closer together. I think that's when it hit me that this was really happening. I tried to sleep that night, but it just wasn't happening. The back labor was so intense. When I laid down the contractions were around 4-6 min. apart. When I was walking they got to 2-3 min. apart. I thought it would be wise to walk around in the middle of the night to get things going (another side note: when it is night time, you try to sleep- you don't keep yourself up)! I remember eating peanut butter sandwiches and bananas. Grant was insistent that I keep myself well fed and hydrated, so I would have all the energy I needed (we learned this in the Bradley classes).

Around 2:30 in the morning we called the Birth Center and told them that our contractions were 2-3 min. apart and they told us to come on in. We got there around 3:30 in the morning (I-40 was a breeze at that time in the morning)! She checked me when we got there and we were 4 cm., so we could be admitted. The only thing we could do at that time was try to sleep. She offered me Nubane or Morphine, but I declined, so she gave me some Tylenol PM and let us "sleep" for a few hours! My sister, Rhea, came in shortly after 3:30. Another thing they let me use was the Tens unit for my back labor. It had four probes that are taped to your back and sends out electrical pulses that I could control with a remote. It was an amazing device and helped my back labor so much. It never took the contraction pain away but helped in between the contractions.

None of us really got any sleep, but we were "awake" and ready to go around 7:00 on Thursday morning. Labor was continuing and it never stopped. I continued to use the Tens unit throughout the morning. I remember trying different laboring positions, with my favorite being standing up and leaning on the bed. I walked around the room a lot and took a shower around mid-afternoon. My contractions never got worse during this period- they always stayed about the same intensity (which was seriously intense, for the record), so we could never figure out when transition actually happened. At first, I didn't want to know how many centimeters I was dilated, but the Midwife was smiling and said it was good news, so we went ahead and found out that we were 9 cm and very stretchy. This was around 12:30 and she said we could go ahead and start our pushing- practice pushing she called it. She also suggested getting into the tub as that might help with the back labor. I remember debating with myself about the tub vs. the Tens unit. I finally decided to get into the water and give it a shot.

(Grant and I after we find out I am 9 cm.)

So, I got into the tub and started pushing. The water was nice, but the back labor was still so intense! The midwife then suggested a sterile water injection in my back. She said that it helps in 75% of women and could take away back pain up to an hour. The payoff is that the needle injection stings like a *&^% (and, yes, for the record it did sting like that). I decided to give it a try because the thought of pushing with the back pain was starting to scare me. They gave me five injections (one injection didn't take the first time) and, amazingly, the back pain immediately subsided. Enough for me to push comfortably. I tried a few positions in the tub and even got out for a few pushes. My water broke somewhat shortly after I got in the tub. I got another set of sterile water injections, so I could get through the next hour of pushing. She was finally born at 2:30 in the afternoon. She came fast and took one look at me and started crying (but just for an minute), because she was very calm after that. I am actually the one that grabbed her and I got to hold her for at least 15 minutes before I got out of the tub. Because we didn't know the sex of the baby, Grant was able to be the one to announce it to everyone. She was able to nurse immediately and was a champ! We were able to leave the birth center around 12:30 that night.

(Our room at the birth center)

(She's here)

(Going home from the birth center)

It really was a wonderful experience. I never once "lost control" (seriously, ask Grant), never wanted any drugs, and never thought I couldn't do it. It was a challenge to say the least (41 hours of hard, "take your breath away" contractions), but I was determined to do this naturally.

The midwives were awesome and respected our birth plan and wishes. They really let Grant and Rhea do all the coaching. And Grant and Rhea were amazing coaches. They never stopped massaging my back, giving me food and water and words of encouragement.

I am so glad that things happened the way they did. Miss C is a beautiful baby and was so calm and alert after the birth. It was truly a great experience.


Krystal said...

I can't believe no one has commented on this. Probably because they can use FB to stay up-to-date. Thank you for sharing your birth story. I hope things are going well for you. Take care!

Nadine said...

I'm so glad your labor went so smoothly. well, as smoothly as labor can be anyway! :)I'm also pregnant and hoping to have a natural childbirth, all I keep hearing is how crazy I am for wanting to try and how I'll change my mind when it happens....
Coraline is beautiful and I love her name too! Congrats!

Andrea and Grant said...

Thanks Nadine(I left a comment on your blog too). Don't let people scare you- it is doable! It's more mind over matter than anything else and the rewards are so awesome (completely calm and alert baby)! I hope all goes well for you!

Heather said...

woohoo!! wonderful story, thanks for sharing! :)